CW: This article discusses topics of mental health and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.
At the start of 2019, Covid-19 plagued the world and would continue to do so for the foreseeable future. A new pandemic ripped through our communities destroying many lives. Over six million people lost their lives and are still losing their lives due to Coronavirus. So yes, Covid-19 was an undeniably heart-breaking disease, but it's not just the disease itself that was/is taking people's lives. Mental health problems have become much more prevalent in society due to the effects of the Coronavirus and the lockdowns that came with it. Are we heading for a mental health crisis? A mental health pandemic is upon us.
What do you need to know?
Generally, mental health refers to our emotional and psychological wellbeing. It is a health concern, that's rarely visible. Anxiety, depression, bipolar, PTSD, anorexia, bulimia, schizophrenia, psychosis, neurodevelopment disorders, borderline personality disorder, body dysmorphia and dissociation are only a minute few mental health disorders, but I bet there's at least one you haven't heard of. Meaning the amount of awareness surrounding the topic is not where it should be.
One in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England and one in six will experience this in any given week. During the years the pandemic was at its peak, 2020-2021, there were half a million people with more severe mental illnesses and mental health disorders in 6-16-year-olds rose from 11.6% to 17.4% and continues to rise. The correlation between the Coronavirus and the rise in mental health disorders, is strong evidence to suggest causation. Children as young as six years old, are going through these due to the loneliness experienced, education missed, and socialisation halted by the pandemic. Something needs to be done, awareness needs to be spread.
There were many devastating covid-19 deaths, so many people lost their futures, their lives, their best friends, their families. But as those coronavirus related deaths slow down, death by suicide increases. More than 700,000 people die due to suicide every year. That's 700,000 people who have lost their battle to mental health disorders, 700,000 people who have left their families behind, 700,000 people who have left their jobs with no one to complete them, 700,000 people who have left their pets waiting for them to return home. We treated covid-19 with lockdowns and isolations which eventually did have a positive effect on the slowing down of the virus, so why is nothing being done to stop the effects of mental health?
What needs to be done?
In my opinion, education has a huge part to play in the development of awareness surrounding mental health. I left school four years ago, and never once had a lesson teaching me what mental health was or any information surrounding it. I had to figure it out for myself. I spent days feeling anxious, scared, upset, depressed, sad and struggling socially. I just thought I was strange and abnormal; I wasn't aware that over 8 million people also experienced these feelings. Anxiety is what it was, a common mental disorder, but how was I supposed to know that? How was I supposed to know I wasn't abnormal? If only my school talked about it more, then maybe it could've been treated and managed correctly.
There are many outlets that could do something to support mental health. The government, cartoons, parents, grandparents, family members, friends, education, tv shows and social media and just a few. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if we don't do something soon, covid-19 won't be the only pandemic to rupture through the world in the 21st century.