Biology

How Covid-19 has affected mental health and how to improve it

Zeen Ahmad

Covid-19 has greatly impacted us all in many ways since the pandemic has started. It has had a significant toll on the mental health of many. Worries may have stemmed from the anxiety of getting the virus or from simply staying at home for too long.

The impact of Covid-19 on mental health

Since the lockdown began as the virus had started to spread, many have had to quarantine away from their friends and family. This loneliness has had a significant negative impact on mental well-being[1]. Quarantine has disrupted daily routines, leaving people with endless days with not much to do but sit with their thoughts all day[1]. Major exams such as GCSEs and A levels being canceled and the uncertainty of how they would be graded have caused great stress and anxiety for students. Of course, most people staying home away from their job has caused financial worry, especially in young adults living alone, on how to pay rent and keep a typical life with no earnings[1]. Many have become paranoid with fear of getting infected[2]. When people come in contact with others who are not following hygiene advice, such as wearing masks, this causes panic for them. They may be either afraid for their health or even passing the virus onto someone more vulnerable and potentially causing them to suffer fatal consequences. As many have noticed, the government’s advice on staying safe is continuously changing – this global uncertainty has caused worry on what to do to stay safe[3].

Covid-19 has emotionally affected all sorts of people and of different ages. Families who are most vulnerable and are more at risk have reportedly been affected much more than those who are not at such a risk[4]. Parents who have had to work from home and manage their children’s online schooling have also reported much higher stress levels[5]. College students have been immediately affected by a significant decline in mental well-being[6]. According to studies, generally, students would have a slight decrease in anxiety and depression levels during spring break, whereas this year, students’ stress levels have remained high[6]. Health care workers fighting on the front lines against this virus have reportedly been affected the most[3]. To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, mental health injuries or illnesses must be severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to do their job. Workers Compensation Lawyers can also help put together a strong case for benefits, from documenting your illness to the final resolution of your claim.

After the first lockdown, the situation started to seem like it was getting better for a while. Schools opened up, stores were back, and routine life resumed. However, it wasn’t long until the cases started to rise again, and more lockdowns followed.

Some scientists even believe the global pandemic will likely cause long-term mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), similar to past disasters such as Hurricane Katrina[7]. Try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible, find out what keeps you busy, happy, and entertained. Many people have reported reduced stress levels when they create a routine with work and activities they enjoy to feel a sense of normality again.

Unsurprisingly, psychologists have reported a considerable spike in the number of people using telepsychology, which uses telemedicine within the practice of psychotherapy, by a medical professional who uses the online tools to assist patients[8]. Psychologists report that telescopy was used at 7.07% for clinical work prior to the pandemic, whereas currently, it has jumped to 85.53%[8]. They believe this will remain even after the pandemic ends. If you ever feel like talking to someone, this is something to be tried out. However, psychologists believe there are still barriers to using telemedicine that need to be overcome[9]

How to protect our mental health

There are many ways we can try to keep our mental health the best it can be. According to studies, those who have followed hygiene advice such as washing hands regularly, wearing masks, and social distancing have experienced reduced stress levels compared to those who have not[1]. Seeking help and support is extremely important – talking and calling with friends and family can significantly boost mental health[9]. Staying positive and reminding yourself this situation is temporary is essential to help keep going on. Sometimes it may feel like this whole thing is never-ending, but it is important to remember it will eventually end and try to keep a positive and hopeful mindset[1]. Even simple exercising such as walking, running, or following online workouts can also help stay active and happy, studies show[10]. Reducing the number of patients at hospitals is important to make sure health workers feel safer and less stressed during these times, so try to avoid going to hospitals unless it is absolutely necessary[9].

Covid-19 has caused global panic and has had a tremendous effect on a lot of our mental health, but there are many ways to help better this and boost our happiness. Hopefully, this pandemic will come to an end soon.

References

  1. Zhou, Yanmengqian, Erina L. MacGeorge, and Jessica Gall Myrick. “Mental Health and Its Predictors during the Early Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic Experience in the United States.” MDPI. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, August 31, 2020. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/17/6315
  2. Rains, Luke Sheridan, Sonia Johnson, Phoebe Barnett, Thomas Steare, Justin J. Needle, Sarah Carr, Billie Lever Taylor, et al. “Early Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health Care and on People with Mental Health Conditions: Framework Synthesis of International Experiences and Responses.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed May 10, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429938/
  3. “Lockdown Study Reports Surge in Health Anxieties.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, August 4, 2020. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200804085920.htm
  4. “For Vulnerable Families, the Pandemic’s Effect on Mental Health Is Swift and Harsh.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, September 2, 2020. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200902182417.htm.
  5. “High Stress Related to Coronavirus Is the New Normal for Many Parents, Says New APA Survey.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, May 21, 2020. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200521151919.htm.
  6. Huckins1, Jeremy F, Alex W daSilva1, Weichen Wang2, Elin Hedlund1, Courtney Rogers1, Subigya K Nepal2, Jialing Wu2, et al. “Mental Health and Behavior of College Students During the Early Phases of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Longitudinal Smartphone and Ecological Momentary Assessment Study.” Journal of Medical Internet Research. JMIR Publications Inc., Toronto, Canada. Accessed May 10, 2021. https://www.jmir.org/2020/6/e20185/
  7. “Pandemic Likely to Cause Long-Term Health Problems, Study Finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, May 20, 2020. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200520191417.htm.
  8. “COVID-19 Sparks 12-Fold Increase in Remote Delivery of Mental Health Care across the US.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, September 2, 2020. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200902161705.htm
  9. Kisely, Steve, Nicola Warren, Laura McMahon, Christine Dalais, Irene Henry, and Dan Siskind. “Occurrence, Prevention, and Management of the Psychological Effects of Emerging Virus Outbreaks on Healthcare Workers: Rapid Review and Meta-Analysis.” The BMJ. British Medical Journal Publishing Group, May 5, 2020. https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1642
  10. “First Study on the Health Conditions of Adults One Month into COVID-19 Lockdown.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, April 8, 2020. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200408102137.htm.

About the Author

Zeen Ahmad is a 16 year old student who has just come back to Manchester from Kurdistan. She is currently studying Biology, Chemistry and Maths A-levels. She hopes to travel the world someday.

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