Therapy Blog

Confronting the Crisis: Mental Health and Coronavirus

Posted on Friday, September 8th, 2023 by Cristina Vrech

Mental Health and Coronavirus

As we make our way through 2023, we are actively reshaping our lives in the aftermath of an unparalleled global health upheaval – the COVID-19 pandemic. Another more subtle issue is now beginning to capture our attention – the crisis concerning mental health. By delving into the profound repercussions of the Coronavirus on this quieter issue, we can pave the way for steps towards healing and restoration.

The Impact of Coronavirus on Mental Health

In these challenging times, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought more than just a health crisis – it has cast a long shadow over our mental well-being. It’s essential to recognise that as we confront the direct health implications of the virus, we must also address the quieter, yet equally significant, toll it has taken on our mental health. Let’s take a closer look at how the pandemic has shaped our emotional landscape.

  1. Rising Anxiety and Depression: The uncertainty that accompanies the pandemic has triggered an upsurge in feelings of anxiety and depression. The constant barrage of information about the virus and its unpredictability has left many of us grappling with heightened stress levels.
  2. The Isolation Dilemma: The protective measures we’ve had to adopt, such as lockdowns and social distancing, have created a paradoxical situation. While they are meant to keep us safe, they have also led to social isolation and a deep sense of loneliness. We’re social creatures by nature, and being unable to connect face-to-face has left many feeling adrift.
  3. Economic Strain and Uncertainty: The financial impacts of the pandemic have introduced a new layer of stress. The fear of losing our jobs or struggling to make ends meet has taken a toll on our mental well-being. If you worry about finances, remember that you’re not alone, and resources are available to help.
  4. Dealing with Disrupted Routines: Our daily routines have been turned upside down, leaving us feeling disoriented and unsure about the future. This sense of instability and ongoing uncertainty has added to our stress levels. It’s completely okay to feel overwhelmed by these changes.
  5. Vulnerable Groups Needing Support: The pandemic has disproportionately affected particular groups, highlighting the importance of offering support:
    • Healthcare workers and first responders: Those on the frontlines face unique professional and personal pressures.
    • Children and adolescents: Younger individuals are navigating disrupted education and social lives, impacting their emotional growth.
    • Elderly individuals: The risk posed by the virus has led to increased feelings of isolation among seniors.
  6. Ways to Cope and Connect: Despite these challenges, there are strategies we can adopt to navigate this difficult terrain:
    • Online mental health services: Many therapists are offering virtual sessions, ensuring that support is accessible even from a distance.
    • Staying virtually connected: Video calls, virtual game nights, and social media can help us bridge the gap created by physical distancing.
    • Prioritising self-care: Engaging in activities you enjoy, practising mindfulness, and maintaining a routine can all contribute to your well-being.

The World Health Organization reports an increase in mental health disorders since the pandemic’s onset, with anxiety and depressive disorders reportedly up by 30%. This sudden shift in our collective mental wellness might suggest that a careful response could be beneficial.

Mental Health and Coronavirus

Understanding the Impact Across Different Groups

The pandemic, quite indiscriminately, has touched the lives of all demographics. The ensuing mental health implications are equally widespread, uniquely affecting different groups. Children and teenagers, having seen significant disruptions to their routines, education, and social interactions, could be experiencing heightened stress, anxiety, and depression.

Adults are possibly balancing many challenges, including job insecurities, remote work, childcare, loss, and the fear of infection. This continual stress and social isolation might have led to a noticeable increase in cases of depression and anxiety.

Seniors at a higher risk for COVID-19 may have distinct hurdles. Fear of infection, isolation-induced loneliness, and potential barriers to physical and mental health services could have intensified their pre-existing mental health conditions.

How People Have Faced Challenges

Despite these challenges, various new support systems have come to the forefront. The emergence of online therapy and digital mental health services provides much-needed remote counselling and psychological care. This digital shift has extended help to those living in remote areas or those unable to leave their homes.

Staying active, practising mindfulness and meditating have also been identified as helpful tools for maintaining mental well-being. The increasing popularity of apps offering guided meditation and ideas for stress relief indicates an interest in mental health self-care.

Community support has been a critical pillar during these challenging times. Heartening actions like neighbours looking out for each other, volunteer networks assisting older people, and online support groups suggest that we’re adapting as a community in the face of adversity.

Specific Lifestyle Changes That Have Helped 

  • Promoting regular physical activity is paramount; exercise releases endorphins, our body’s natural mood boosters, reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. Integrating simple activities, like walks, yoga, or home workouts, can do wonders for our emotional well-being.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet is equally crucial. Nutrient-rich foods fuel our bodies and our minds, improving mood and energy levels. Hydration and limiting intake of alcohol and caffeine, which can exacerbate anxiety and disrupt sleep, are also essential aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
  • A consistent sleep schedule cannot be underestimated in promoting mental health. Quality sleep helps reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall cognitive function.
  • Incorporating mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises, can help ground us in the present, reducing worries about the future or ruminations on the past – common issues during uncertain times like these.
  • Lastly, cultivating a balanced work-life routine is key, especially for those working remotely. Setting boundaries between work and personal life helps prevent burnout and keeps stress levels in check.

Making Mental Health A Priority

 The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our mental health highlights the potential benefits of giving mental health care greater priority. As a global community, we can come together to ensure everyone needs support. For individuals, it’s a reminder that seeking help without fear or stigma is not just okay—it’s encouraged.

As we address the physical impact of the pandemic, let’s also remember that mental and emotional well-being is just as important. 

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The Role Of Counselling 

Counselling is a beacon of hope during challenging times. It offers a safe space for individuals to express their fears, anxieties, and feelings, allowing them to understand better and navigate their emotional landscape. Counsellors utilise various therapeutic approaches to help individuals find new ways of facing stress, anxiety, and depression, often exacerbated by the pandemic’s circumstances.

For those grappling with grief or loss due to COVID-19, grief counselling guides individuals through the complex bereavement process. Therapy assists individuals in reframing unhelpful thought patterns associated with the pandemic’s impact into healthier ones.

Moreover, counsellors empower individuals by equipping them with new ways to help themselves when struggling. 

In the face of the pandemic’s unique and widespread mental health challenges, counselling services—whether in-person or online — are vital resources in our collective healing process. They stand as a testament that even in times of unprecedented crisis, help is available.

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