COVID-19 is not the only worldwide problem people are facing!
CW: This article discusses topics of mental illness and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.
Since the onset of Covid-19 in March 2020 it has seen an increase in mental health problems. This has included adults who have reported suffering from psychological distress increased from 20.8% in 2019 to 29.5% in April 2020. Studies have suggested there has been a worsening of depression and anxiety symptoms in adults during the Christmas period in 2021. These symptoms are problematic because it has led to a significant increase in suicidal thoughts with 7.9% of people using self-harm behaviours at least once between 2020-2021. Though mental health over the last few decades has become problematic with the United Nations declaring it as one of the seventeen sustainability development goals for a better future. It is becoming more widespread as more people than ever are suffering and becoming victims from arrival of COVID-19.
So I ask what does mental health mean to you? Does it mean being positive of the day ahead? Does it mean being confident in everything you do and feeling good about it? Or does it simply mean being happy? This may be something you have never thought about before or always think about. Maybe you are a person who worries over simply things or doesn't worry at all. But all of these things make you YOU and are crucial to your life!
You may be someone who thinks that doesn't affect me but doesn't it? Throughout your life there will always be some sort of change... whether that be transforming from school to college, college to University, starting a new job, parents aging etc. Yet, we are prepared for such events from a young age but no-one could have foreseen the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately this brought uncertainty in our lives like never before, leading to conflicting emotional repsonses impacting on our mental health. Therefore, the pandemic effected everyone's mental health one way or another even if at the time you might not have thought it.
How? Because COVID-19 has changed our lives not just on the surface but underneath as well.
COVID-19 unspoken truths
Though the pandemic created changes such as working from home, lockdowns, masks, job losses etc. That we are all aware of and were part of. The unspoken part of COVID was the toll this was having on people mentally. For instance, financial instability, catching the virus, worried about loved ones catching the virus or even not seeing loved ones and missing out on life. Regarding myself I can say I had all these thoughts several times. Whether you had these thoughts once or several times this affected your mental health. As you can't control what will happen and have no reassurance everything will be alright. But maybe you tried reassuring yourself...however this can't be said for others.
This has led to people suffering from anxiety and depression with fear of leaving the house and if you think this could be you or was at one point in time you are not alone. There is help out there! If there is anything, you can trust it is that you are not alone and support is available. The COVID-19 pandemic created more problems. In the sense people who hadn't suffered with mental health all of a sudden did.. that is a fact! There is no problem admitting that it did because as they say it's okay not to be okay....
As little things can help make people feel better, happier and this could have been restricted during the pandemic... even the notion of losing time became a persistent thought, as time waits for no man and before you know people have lost a year of their life!
The world emphasises our health is everything, but what if other important things become jeopardised? Like the COVID-19 pandemic causing problematic mental health thoughts but not everyone considers this. That is why it is important to acknowledge this and spread the word.
Ways that can help!
If you feel like this because of COVID then here is what you can do....
There are people you can talk to like; Mind, NHS, betterhelp etc. a wide variety of charities and organisations. But if you aren't comfortable speaking to someone there are little things you can do yourself.. some simple steps. Firstly, this could be becoming self-aware and acknowledging how you are feeling in that moment. Then there could be other things like connecting with others, in the digital era that could be as simple as Facetime if you don't live with people. Being physically active, some simple exercises or going for walks. Learning new skills e.g. reading or learning to cook etc. and giving to others this will help your mindset. All this contributes to maintaining a positive mental health by staying motivated to a life worth living.
Maybe this article is the first to explore the problems of mental health because of COVID-19 or maybe it is the thousand time you have seen it but one message to take from this is you are never alone and there is something positive... each other and ways to help you be the best YOU!