The Covid-19 Pandemic & Mental Health
As an event that can cause physical, emotional, and psychological harm, the COVID-19 pandemic can itself be considered a traumatic event. Mental health is sensitive to traumatic events and their social and economic consequences. 2020 was a year of challenges, marked by loss and the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must recognize the significant impact of the pandemic on our mental health and the importance of increasing access to timely and effective care for those who need it. 1 in 15 U.S adults experienced both a substance use disorder and mental illness. 12+ million U.S adults had serious thoughts of suicide. 1 in 5 U.S adults report that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their mental health 45% of those with mental illness, and 55% of those with serious mental illness.
How did the Pandemic’s impacts on society affect mental health?
The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations across all sectors and sizes to undertake crucial changes in order to remain productive during the emergency. Among these, the shift towards remote working arrangements is still present in our workplaces, impacting employees’ well-being and productivity. Several organizational factors affected employees’ well-being, generating depression, anxiety, and stress among employees. These factors include working extra hours, having a heavier workload, feeling socially isolated, worsening feelings of job security, experiencing difficulties in accessing the necessary work tools from home, plus added stress and anxiety.
The pandemic-related arrangements impacted the quality of work life as well. Isolation made it more challenging to receive and ask for help from colleagues and reduced the quality of interpersonal exchange; isolation also meant problems connected with poor or difficult communication due to the sudden changes in the organization of work. Isolation also undermined the sense of belonging to the organization, which, in turn, caused depressive symptoms.
How were children, teens, and families impacted by COVID?
Youth and young adults experienced a unique set of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic—isolation from peers, adapting to virtual learning, and changes to sleep habits and other routines. 3 Million youth and young adults had serious thoughts of suicide and there was a 31% increase in mental health related emergency department visits. 1 in 5 young people report that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their mental health and there was a significant increase in young adults drinking and an increase in drug use (15% of adolescents and 18% of young adults). Youth and teens experiencing pandemic related stressors such as parental job loss, eviction, or bereavement, often have elevated need for mental health services but may have difficulty accessing care, due to familial economic and housing stability.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the mental health of parents was affected by a variety of factors. Marital relationships, social support, and family harmony are risk factors for parents’ mental health and had a significant effect on anxiety and depression. In addition to the stress caused by the pandemic, the parent-child relationship and the relationship between parents also affect the mental health of parents in such a difficult period, and parents’ mental health can further affect children’s mental and physical health, creating a vicious circle. Therefore, there is an urgent need to pay attention to the mental health of parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has interfered with almost every aspect of life and presents unique threats to the physical and emotional wellbeing of older adults. Although anxiety and depression have increased in this population since the start of the pandemic, unexpectedly, elders are coping with the uncertainty better than younger generations. However, depression and anxiety still have negative impacts on their quality of life, function, and general health. The risk for mental illness during this pandemic is multifactorial, influenced by demographics, socioeconomic status, living situation, location, and psychiatric and medical comorbidities. Although adults may not be attending in?person office visits, it is essential not to diminish the quality of medication management and counseling for a healthy lifestyle. Cognitive, behavioral, and social therapies can be offered both in?person and virtually, which can help provide coping skills and reduce the perception of loneliness for those who are older and/or retired.
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