Mental Health and how COVID-19 impacted 2020

COVID-19 is a pandemic spreading throughout the world. The disease has destabilised economies, disrupted economic and educational activities, and caused mass layoffs from the workplace, inducing fear, worry, and anxiety in the world. The disease has proven hard to contain as there are millions of people infected despite the containment strategies. The illness has a profound psychosocial impact, explained through increased rates of anxiety and stress. Also, quarantine, social distancing, and containment strategies have disrupted routines and livelihoods, causing loneliness. Consequently, there is an increase in self-harm tendencies and drug use among the affected. Healthcare workers also have an elevated need for mental health services. Mental support services are needed to help families cope with bereavement, loss of income, or reduced income and live healthily during the lockdown and quarantine.

Physical distancing and isolation measures, the closure of schools and workplaces, are particularly challenging us- it is natural for us to feel stress, anxiety, loneliness, and fear during this time." The World Health Organization recognizes that COVID-19 containment strategies harm mental health. People with existing mental conditions are likely to feel stressed and anxious and undertake alcohol and drug use a coping mechanism. The Sting’s Team (2020) noted that psychosocial support for people with existing mental conditions is limited, which may worsen their condition or cause a regression in their quality of life. The closure of schools and workplaces stresses families. Lockdowns, quarantine, and isolation measures fear the disease leads to accumulated trauma for populations and healthcare workers.

Mental health is compounding as people with existing conditions do not get the desired services, and there is an increase in stress and anxiety in the general population. The Office of National Statistics speculates that 25million people in the UK experienced high anxiety levels in March when the lockdown was announced and implemented (United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe, 2020). The anxiety resulted from concern for well-being, job security, and the impact of COVID-19 on their finances. The UK reported increased rates of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Therefore, there is a mental health crisis in the world as a result of COVID-19 containment strategies. There is an increased demand for counselling, mental health services, and self-help.

The need for mental health support is on the increase with more people needing the services. The elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions are experiencing panic attacks from worrying about their health. The panic and anxiety has caused people to make unhealthy adjustments to their lives, limiting physical contacts even with family members who are not at risk. All of these concerns need to be addressed to maintain mental health among the concerned groups.

Looking after your Mental Health

Closure or limited accessibility mental health support service does not imply the inaccessibility of mental health information. People with mental health conditions and living or caring for mental health patients should seek accurate information from legitimate sources. Credible resources are critical for addressing fear, panic, and anxiety that comes with the inaccessibility of mental health services such as counselling as noted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe (2020). Family and friends are essential support systems that help you to overcome anxiety and fear. Maintaining a healthy relationship with family and friends, even virtually, will help overcome loneliness brought by lockdown and isolation. People are advised to use technology to support such relationships to avoid travel and physical contact, exposing them and their loved ones to the disease.

We have a responsibility to look after our health, physical, and mental. Where possible, people should maintain their usual routines and activities such as getting enough sleep, eat healthy meals, work, and exercise (WHO Regional Office for Western Europe, 2020). Mental health conditions such as depression occur when people stop taking care of themselves and worrying excessively over things they cannot control. Healthcare workers have to deal with increased anxiety over their health and that of their families. Healthcare workers are in the front in the fight against the pandemic. Therefore, they have to deal with increased stressors in the workplace and keep themselves and their families safe from the disease. Governments and employers of healthcare workers need to provide adequate mental health support to their staff to reduce the stress associated with their work's nature. Also, health professionals should get sufficient rest and sleep between shifts to benefit their mental health.

People with existing and developing mental conditions should be allowed to get the professional support they need. Counsellors should implement dynamic strategies for the benefit of patients, introducing new methods such as online counselling. Patients with mental health conditions need regular care and routines; otherwise, they may regress. Additionally, mental health detox will help to alleviate the symptoms of mental illnesses. A mental detox is taking a break from activities that trigger or worsen mental conditions symptoms, including stress, panic, and anxiety. Taking a break from activities that cause anxiety or stress is a tremendous mental health detox.

Finally, people need to acknowledge their feelings and those of people close to them. Emotions caused by the pandemic include anxiety, stress, feeling overwhelmed, and anger. Acknowledging these feelings is a healthy coping mechanism. Talking about your feelings to family, friends, or even a counsellor will help process the pandemic and its influence on life better. Denial and failing to acknowledge these feelings erodes the capacity of positive thinking and strategizing for the future.

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