Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19
Many organizations from the CDC to private foundations have been conducting studies that are reporting negative psychological effects caused by the pandemic, including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion and anger. This is leading to a growing mental health crisis in all parts of the world, with over 40% of adults in the U.S. dealing with some form of depression.
Many organizations from the CDC to private foundations have been conducting studies that are reporting negative psychological effects caused by the pandemic, including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. This is leading to a growing mental health crisis in all parts of the world, with over 40% of adults in the US dealing with some form of depression.
The COVID-19 pandemic is almost two years old and the fallout from this world phenomenon is great. People are trying to cope with stressful, overwhelming emotions, caused by the isolation of quarantine, dealing with sickness and death of loved ones, job loss and a general feeling of hopelessness.
“COVID-19 has been a time of loss for everyone, and it is okay to grieve loss,” said Lydia Stearns, PA-C at Shrink Savannah. “We have had a huge societal shift and it is time to be patient and compassionate with ourselves and each other through this time of loss.”
Stearns goes on to describe the trigger points that people should look for that would have them transition from just mourning the loss and arriving at the point where they realize they need professional help. These triggers include such things as not wanting to get out of bed, not being able to sleep, being extremely OCD about cleanliness or just feeling overwhelmed all the time.
“COVID-19 has gone on for so long that is it causing neurotransmitters in your brain to actual alter and for depression to become a chemical reaction, not just an emotion,” said Stearns. “When that happens, you need medication to help correct the chemical imbalance, making it very appropriate to seek help.”
However, in the current turbulent economic climate, there are many people who need help but do not have the resources to pay for treatment. Michelle Casey, interim executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Savannah, points out that while NAMI is the flagship for education and advocacy for mental illness, they do not offer treatment.
“If you search online for free services, not much comes up. If you have a problem with alcohol, you can go to Alcoholics Anonymous for free. When it comes to mental illness, the availability of free treatment is almost nonexistent,” said Casey. “We do what we can to help people find the support and help that they need.”
According to nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, about half of adults (47%) nationwide have reported negative mental health impacts during the pandemic — a significant increase from pre-pandemic levels, with mothers of children under age 18 being the most likely to report stress and worry, at rates much higher than fathers.
For adults whose mental health has gotten worse due to the pandemic, being unable to find a provider and being unable to afford the cost are the biggest barriers to getting the services they need. The following list includes some decisive actions you can take to control depression, anxiety and stress and a list of resources that can help.
8 Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, TV, and computer screens for a while.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use
- Make time to unwind — try to do some other activities you enjoy
- Connect with others — talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling
- Connect with your community (or faith-based organizations). While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Savannah is one of over 1,500 affiliates in communities across the country that is a grassroots, self-help, support, education and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of all those affected by serious mental illness. “Our mission is to eradicate the stigma associated with these illnesses and to promote research into the causes of and treatments for mental illness,” said Michelle Casey, executive director, NAMI, Savannah. They offer an array of free educational and support programs for individuals and families. Begin the search for help below.
NAMI National Help Line:
CRISIS STABILIZATION / EMERGENCIES:
Georgia Crisis and Access Line:
(A Crisis Has No Schedule)
Crisis Access Line
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Suicide Life Line
Emergency Police – 911
Ask for a Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) officer
To learn more, visit gbi.georgia.gov/divisions/crisis-intervention-team
Crisis Intervention Team
United Way – 211
Information Help Line
Peer Support “Warm Line”
The Georgia Mental Health consumer-directed “warm line” for anyone struggling with mental health issues, 24 hours a day.
To read this story in its entirety, subscribe now to the print edition for the full article or get instant access to our interactive digital edition.