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The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 is the Real Pandemic


<p>Fear, anger, stress and anxiety are just a few of the harrowing emotions that flooded the public back in March when we truly understood the severity of the Covid crisis. Many worked hard to turn these lemons into lemonade as they optimistically waited for this to pass us by in the following months. Now, nearing the end of the year, the virus seems to be nowhere near a place of improvement, continuing to encourage social distancing and isolation techniques to slow the spread. The techniques used to slow the spread of the contagious COVID- 19 virus, however, are spreading another invisible pandemic, a drastic decline in mental health.</p> <p>A common misconception is that mental health and mental illness are the same thing. The fact of the matter is, that while not everyone has a mental illness, every single person on this planet does have mental health. If we all have varying levels of physical health, then it makes even more sense that we all have varying levels of mental health. You do not need to have a mental illness to struggle or seek help, just like you don&rsquo;t need a chronic disease to give yourself permission go to your General Physician. If you are simply feeling an emotion, that is all is needed for it to be &ldquo;valid&rdquo; enough for professional treatment and support.</p> <p>Many people who have never struggled with symptoms of anxiety and depression before, are sinking into an imbalanced emotional place as lock downs continue and suicide rates, attempts and activity at hotlines has increased at an alarming rate since March 2020. An incredibly high-risk group for suicide rates is health care workers. Physicians are already at a 44% higher risk than the general population for suicide. PTSD, burnout, and depression are common symptoms that rise to the surface in health care workers. Burnout is a dangerous state, especially in a capitalist country that praises burnout as an elitist state of being.</p> <p>It is no question that heath care workers have been one of the most affected groups during this Covid crisis. Nurses, doctors, and assistants have shown through social media, the daily uphill battles they are facing to keep themselves safe while trying to save as many lives as they can. On top of the high level of hours health care work has normalized, the pandemic has almost doubled the time they spend on the job, continuing to increase the risk of burnout. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point to similar increases in suicide deaths during other health crises. Suicides also rose in the United States during the 1918 influenza pandemic. The National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline has even seen a 65% increase in calls and emails since March 2020.</p> <p>Although stated many times over, it is important to maintain your physical heath while combating declines in mental health. It is very easy to slip into bad habits whether we are trapped at home or on the front lines. These bad habits can range from increased sedentary behaviors accompanied by a decrease in nutritional food consumption to working for hours, barreling through the day and forgetting to consume any water or food. Correcting these habits builds a great foundation for having some semblance of a grasp on your mental health. It is also important to distance yourself from the constant wave of covid-19 information while continuing to receive the crucial pieces from authorized sources.</p> <p>Isolation is the one thing those suffering from depression and anxiety are advised not to do. Yet, this is what is expected of us to slow the spread. Make sure to call your friends and family. Although an undeniably difficult time to live in the world, we are undoubtably the luckiest generation experiencing a pandemic, technologically speaking. We have the ability to video chat with one person or groups, play virtual games, and stay linked through social media. Through the waves of disheartening news being wheeled out almost daily, it is important to focus on these silver linings anywhere they can be found.</p> <p>No matter how isolated we are forced to become, help is always right by our side. The Pandemic has taken a lot away from us, but it has not taken away the desire to help others. While distancing physically, many have connected emotionally, bringing forth a beautiful level of unity and understanding amidst the tragedy being faced. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Hotline 800-273-8255. They are here to help and you are never alone.</p>