After a year of isolation, we are starting to hear a rather promising statement:
The Pandemic will soon leave us be, i.e., the world will soon be Pandemic-free.
But will it be that way? Given the intensity and occurrences of spring 2020 and the rest of last year, does the pandemic have us in a position of easily transitioning back to normal life?
Does the former chain of unfortunate events permit us to just forget and move on? Perhaps, not. Although the pandemic may have been nothing but merely a bundle of boredom to deal with, it turned the world upside down for some of us. Be it in terms of finances, relations, social life, career, and most of all, mental peace.
One way or another, those unfortunate times, as well as current on-goings, are not leaving us all in a good space mentally, which, in turn, brings us to the question; is a mental health crisis the next pandemic?
Let’s have a look into it.
Mental Health Crisis
Before the pandemic, the percentage of U.S adults exhibiting minor or major symptoms of depression was no more than about 8.5 percent. However, a survey conducted after the outbreak measures an alarming rise of about 27.8 percent.
Moreover, should we dissect this recorded figure in greater detail, you will come to know that 35 percent of people have trouble sleeping and 32 percent have trouble eating, which of course impacts other aspects of life as well. A sleep-deprived or a nutrition-deprived person will not be able to combat well the first obstacle of all in the present day, i.e., germs. Similarly, the person will not be able to perform well in office work and household chores, and family duties.
General paranoia, i.e., fear of the COVID germs and associated conspiracy theories further contributed to this downfall of mental health. And perhaps, the situation was worse for those who medically combat anxiety, depression, and excessive worry. There is a 12 percent rise in substance abuse to deal with the situation.
Major Stress Factors
We analyzed some moving and rather alarming facts up above. Now, coming to think of it, what exactly became the root cause of such an abrupt rise in a mental health crisis that too globally?
Yes, you’re processing it right. The pandemic is the root cause, but what aspects of this traumatic pandemic became too much to bear for some?
Well, according to analysis, the three major stress factors that pushed most to their limits are:
- Financial Loss
- Job Loss
- Lack of human interaction
- Loss of a loved one
Economic downturns of almost all industries led to the loss of jobs. People with less than $5000 in their savings were not only burdened by thoughts of difficult survival but also got pushed to the extreme extent of suicide. Plus, there was a huge variation in the intensity of mental health status of essential to non-essential workers. The essential workers were at a greater risk of contracting the virus, and hence, the rate of their depressive orders is currently around 42 percent, while that of essential workers is no more than 30 percent.
Closure of educational institutes and stress due to job loss of parents also negatively impacted the mental well-being of young ones. Mothers, in particular, had to face a tough time, and so the rate of depression in adult females was higher than that of males.
How can we tackle these?
In actuality, there is not a direct and immediate way of tackling the situation entirely. Like the COVID-19 pandemic, this wave of mental instability will take some time to leave us entirely. But know that, gradually and eventually, it will.
To address it, we need to integrate health support at all levels, including individual, social, communal, etc. Individually, we can make use of relevant stress relievers. Taking care of the body in terms of a well-balanced diet and healthy routine also matters. Also, take a break from listening to daily or weekly news stories, which may only add to the list of negative aspects.
At a social level, we need to keep in touch with one another (metaphorically!) and keep a check on each other’s well-being. Should you see someone struggling and giving up, either help the person out emotionally, financially, and physically (whichever possible for you) or report it to relevant authorities.
Lastly, but most essentially, we’ll ask you to stay put. We know you have been strong all this while. Whether your share of damage from the pandemic is visible out in the open or not, you need to credit yourself for putting up with it. You’ve made it through one undeniably traumatic pandemic, you can surely take whatever comes next. You got this! Good luck!