What Will Be the Mental Illness Trend During & After Covid-19?

 
The world is experiencing an increase in the number of people with mental health issues since 2000. Subtly, for anxiety and depression on adults age 21 and above, we see a small increase of less than 0.5% annually right up to Covid-19.
 
Three months into the Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing a 1,000 percent increase in a major emergency hotline for people in emotional distress as compared to 2019. As a result, more people with a potential mental health issue are seeking help on a global basis.
 
Lockdown, business failure, job reduction, social disconnection, etc., are significant concerns that add to the list of mental pressure that is already plaguing the global population. Lockdowns and isolations of infected or at-risk people, reduction of social contact, potentially caused homeliness, and increase mental issues like anxiety and depressions. Job retrenchments and business failures impact mental health that causes people to develop anxiousness, self-doubt, and depression.
 

COVID-19 Exacerbated the Avalanche Effect on Mental Health

 
Covid-19 exacerbated the avalanche effect on mental health illnesses over the last 20 years and infecting a higher percentage of people. Unfortunately, with more than 20 trillion dollars spent by governments worldwide to mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19, only a tiny percentage is to be spent on mental healthcare. Though many hospitals worldwide are awash with Covid-19 patients, many people with existing and new mental illnesses are not given equivalent psychiatric care on their situation.
 
More than 90% of people who attempted suicide have at least one form of mental illness. Self-harm occurs to teenagers as young as 12 years old, and as much as 20% of teenagers attempt it.
 

Unemployment Due to COVID is Affecting Mental Health

 
Many governments are injecting financial support to their market to prevent a catastrophic meltdown that would otherwise cause a considerable number of businesses going bust and a skyrocketing unemployment number.
 
A study by the Great Recession found that for every percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, a corresponding suicide rate of 1.6% will increase. Before Covid-19, the U.S. unemployment rate stood at 3.5% versus the current 11.1% at the end of June 2020. Potentially, we could be seeing an increase of 12.16% on suicide rate due to Covid-19.
 
The healthcare workers that provide care to Covid-19 patients face daunting challenges for long working hours and handling patient deaths. The mind draining work and skyrocketing patient deaths have caused 50% of doctors and nurses to experience depression, 45% for anxiety, and 34% for insomnia (in China). This is a period that we need to question how long these doctors and nurses can last before they would become a patient themselves?

Many COVID Mental Health Statistics Aren’t Available

 
Presently in Covid-19, many statistics on mental illnesses are not yet available. But many experts have warned about the deteriorating economic situation in many countries. The current economic uncertainty has posed challenging times for workers and businesses. It’s crucial to adopt the mindset that life after Covid-19 will never be the same again.
 

Are There Ways to Prevent the COVID-19 Trend and Minimize the Effects?

 
Life during Covid-19 brings lockdown, wearing a mask, social distancing, limited socializing activities, etc. Covid-19 has severely limited our physical interactions with colleagues, friends, and family members. Social wellbeing is crucial to the psychological needs of every human, and this means getting physically in touch with friends.
 
An article by Psychology Today says that virtual friendship and online communication does more social harm when people hide behind the screen and think through their fingers. Sadly, such virtual communications are much promoted as the new way of communication during Covid-19 as part of the lockdown process by governments worldwide.

 5 Ways to Handle Mental Wellbeing

 

Coping with stress and anxiety during Covid-19 is never easy. Every day, we are constantly bombarded by various news media on infection and death numbers, job losses, and business closures. Here are 5 distinct ways to handle mental wellbeing:  

  1. Take breaks from the news – Paying lesser attention to upsetting news reports

2. Take care of your body – Try various mindfulness activities such as meditation, stretching, and deep breaths

  1. Plan to cope with a sudden drop in social contact – Maintain contacts are essential, but some me-time helps
  1. Take changes into consideration – Life could never be the same again even after Covid-19, with some permanent adjustments to lifestyle such as travel plans, etc.
  1. Drop your worries – write and forget these stressful, depressive, and fears in your journal, and only to remember those things that went well.

10 Ways to Improve Mental Health

 

Interestingly, this useful article from Maple listed 10 excellent ways to improve mental health

  1. Understand your risk factors – Identify issues that could trigger your anxiety level
  1. Don’t watch too much news – Limit news reading to just once a day
  1. Accept that some anxiety, fear, and depression is normal – Such emotions are useful to our basic survival instincts, but too much is bad
  1. Ignore those “what-ifs” – Many things in our life are beyond our control
  1. Find time and space to relax – Focus on activities that help you to relax and enjoy
  1. Keep a healthy diet – Control those calories, eat healthy food, and avoid stress eating
  1. Avoid substance use – Avoid cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, as much as you can
  1. Maintain a proper sleep schedule – Get a deep long sleep is crucial
  1. Do some cardio exercises – Calisthenic exercises such as jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, etc., are useful to pump our heart and lose some weight
  1. Get therapy help if required – When you realize that your mind and emotions are getting out of control

Through this challenging Covid-19 period, kindly remember that your mental health is an essential piece of your overall health. Self-isolation doesn’t mean you have to suffer alone.

What is Mental Resilience, and How to Build It?

 

 Mental resilience is the cognitive ability to adapt to the misfortunes and setbacks in life and get back on your feet. Mental resilience harnesses the inner cognitive strength to rebound from a setback or challenge, such as job loss, the death of a close friend or family member, business failure, etc.

However, mental resilience wouldn’t make these problems go away. But it provides the ability to see past these problems, find joy and happiness in life, and be better in handling stress, anxiety, and depression.

An article from Mayo Clinic provides some good ways to enhance our mental resilience: –

 

  1. Get and stay connected – Strong and positive relationships with friends, and family members provide us with the support and care to see through the good and bad times
  1. Make every day meaningful – Work on something positive and significant every day to nurture the sense of accomplishment and purpose
  1. Recount the experience – Learn from past experiences to deal with the challenging times and how you manage to overcome those difficultie
  2. Stay hopeful – You can’t change your past, but you can handle your future. Learn to deal with challenges as they come along, and not to be too worried about them.
  1. Self-care is essential – Before you can care for others, you must learn and care for yourself. Enjoy the activities and hobbies that you like to nurture the sense of self-rewarding
  1. Be proactive and take precautions – Troubles and accidents do happen. Take the necessary steps to prevent negative thoughts and emotions

So, What’s the Key Takeaway Here?

In the mid of this challenging Covid-19 time, it is understandable that some form of anxiety, fear, or depression might take control of your life. At times, these emotions might overwhelm your mind or get out of control. It may be hard to resist these negative thoughts. Seeking help or to talk about it among friends and family members openly might help to lower these thoughts.

There is NO shame in seeking treatment for mental illness, which is so prevalent in many countries. At any point in any year, more than 10% of the population is suffering from mental illnesses.

So, instead of rejecting the need to seek psychotherapeutic treatment, why not instead focus on non-treatment activities. Embark on the journey to get a better and happier you. Life is too short to be suffering from these mental illnesses.

The other challenge lies in individual pain tolerance for mental illness. Enduring too much of these mental pains could consume the hearts and minds of the individual, which might result in more drastic actions or remedies. So, it pays to treat these mental illnesses while the conditions are still mild.

Common excuses such as the (a) lack of transportation, (b) unwilling to be known to others, (c) the effect on a job prospect, (d) confidentiality, (e) treatment unable to help, (f) concern about opinions of others, (g) unable to find the time, (h) committed to medications, (i) no idea where to seek help, (j) no insurance coverage, (k) time will heal, (l) and couldn’t afford the costs, are prevalent among people with a mental health condition in seeking treatments.

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