Over the past year, more than ever we have learned the importance of physical and mental health, and how these are truly intertwined in our everyday lives.
We have been truly amazed by our staff and individuals who have gone above and beyond to keep each other safe, healthy and engaged. We need to take care of ourselves first as the number one priority to be able to best support and take care of others. Mental health and wellbeing are the foundation of health and wellness in our lives, stated Jenna Neal, Director of Health Services at Hammer Residences.
Julia Christianson, Community Life Coordinator, has written a series of three articles for Mental Health Awareness Month showcasing topics for staff to use as a personal resource and share with individuals they support.
The second article in the series talks about Mental Health and COVID-19
There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected each of our lives in more ways than one. Because of the many major life changes in the past year, we have seen a dramatic increase in depression and anxiety symptoms within the public. In fact, the CDC reported the percentage of US Adults reporting symptoms associated with anxiety and depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5% during the pandemic.
If we look at some of those major life changes during the pandemic, we can begin to understand some of the reasoning behind this dramatic increase in anxiety and depressive symptoms. Many adults have reported that within the last year they have had difficulty sleeping or eating, increased alcohol and substance use, and worsening chronic conditions. Some possible contributions to these negative impacts include altered daily routines, financial pressures, social isolation, and uncertainty. Even more, social media, news outlets, and other resources caused some to feel overwhelmed and out of control by the magnitude of information out there and the energy it takes to decipher the truth from misinformation.
We have also noticed that some groups of people have been impacted more greatly than others. Specifically, parents have been noted to have poorer mental health due to the challenges with school closures and lack of child-care. In addition, communities of color have been disproportionally affected. Historically, these communities of color have faced challenges accessing mental health care, and the pandemic made finding health care even more difficult. Because of the lack of access to testing, fear of profiling while wearing face masks, and other issues; the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly amplified the need for equality among persons of color. Furthermore, essential workers, who include many of our employees, have also been affected mentally by the pandemic. Due to the greater risk of exposure and many other factors, there has been a significant increase in symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, starting or increasing substance use, and suicidal thoughts.
So how can you support your loved ones, employees, and yourself during these times?
First, please be aware that you are not alone. The pandemic has affected us all and, as the statistics show, an increase in anxiety and depressive symptoms is not uncommon. We need to be sure to take care of our body and mind through physical activity, getting enough sleep, limit exposure to news media, and setting priorities. In addition, be sure to maintain connections with others. You can build support and strengthen your relationships by making connections virtually, doing something for others, or supporting a family member or friend. Finally, be sure to get help when you need it.
See below for more information about mental health during the pandemic and resources for getting help:
- COVID-19 and your mental health – Mayo Clinic
- The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use | KFF
- Learn more about mental health | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 | CDC
- Employees: How to Cope with Job Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic | CDC
- People Seeking Treatment – Mental Health – CDC