COVID-19 and Mental Health

Lindsey Yucha, Senior Editor

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may bring upon more than physical illness. Almost everyone is encountering some level of stress, anxiety, and fear of this situation. With the overwhelming emotions arising, everyone will react and cope in different ways. 

The psychological element of this outbreak will touch a substantial number of people around the world. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined older people, people with chronic diseases, children, teens, healthcare workers who are on the frontline, and people who have mental health conditions counting those with substance abuse disorders are more at risk of a stronger reaction to the stress imposed by the virus. The World Economic Forum pointed out these groups of people listed are additionally at risk for long-term mental health issues. Moreover, the World Economic Forum stated young people under 30 and those in precarious situations such as those who deal with disability and poverty are also at risk for long-term mental health issues.

The increased rates of stress-related to coronavirus are already appearing in statistics. In a Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll done in early April, reports show 45% of adults felt stress caused by coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health. In early March, only 32% of adults felt coronavirus related stress has had a negative impact on their mental health. 

A large range of strains on mental health can stem from this pandemic. The World Economic Forum stated those who are quarantined are likely to experience symptoms of psychological stress and disorders. These symptoms consist of low mood, insomnia, stress, anxiety, anger, irritability, emotional exhaustion, depression, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Pre-existing mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders and mood disorders may worsen. National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI)  notes loneliness from this pandemic can lead to the occurrence of depressive episodes. 

During this frightening period of time, it is important to practice self-care strategies and constructive coping mechanisms. Major factors of self-care are taking care of your body and mind. Ways to take care of your body include getting enough sleep, working out, eating healthy, avoiding substances like drugs and alcohol, and giving yourself time to relax. To take care of your mind, it is significant to keep yourself busy, focus on positive thoughts, and reach out to positive social support. Mayo Clinic and NAMI urge those struggling to limit their exposure to news along with only follow reliable new sources like the CDC and WHO. To feel in more control of your days, Mayo Clinic advises you to keep your regular routine by following a sleep schedule, having consistent meal times, bathing regularly, and setting aside time for interests or priorities.  

Never be ashamed to reach out for help. Reach out to a close friend, a family member, the school, a mental health professional, or a primary care provider if you are struggling. Many mental health professionals are offering phone, video, and online appointments. NAMI and other organizations can assist in offering support, answering questions, and guide you through the next steps. 

It is crucial you receive help if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm. Contact your primary health care provider or a mental health professional. Suicide hotlines are always available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) and its webchat is