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  • Writer's pictureAshlee Swartbooi

Impacts of COVID-19 on Mental Health

Countless changes had to be made since COVID-19 hit the world. People were forced to work from home, school-aged kids had to do their classes remotely, many lost their jobs and their homes, and many dealt with friends and family dying from the virus.

Everyone has been affected in one negative way or another. It is no surprise that mental illness has been at an all-time high in the last year.

Isolation and job loss have caused people to report higher numbers of symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorder. Before the pandemic, only 1 in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders but now the numbers are 4 in 10!

In January 2019, 10% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and depression while in January 2021 41.1% of adults reported having these symptoms. This clearly shows how much anxiety and depression have increased in the pandemic.

56% of young adults reported having symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorder during the pandemic. Young adults (ages 28-24) have always been the most at risk for mental illness, and now the numbers are even higher.

Women who have children are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and depression. 56% of mothers have reported these symptoms which is above men who have children.

Those who are Black and Hispanic/Latino adults are more at risk for experiencing symptoms of mental illness. Blacks were reported at 48%, Hispanic/Latinos were reported at 46%, and White adults reported at 41%.

"Families with school-age children are bearing the additional burden of adapting to online or hybrid learning. Silverstein says she's especially concerned about the long-term effects on families coping with instability, and those with children who have behavioral issues or other special needs."

Parents are no longer able to have breaks because their children no longer go to school, sports, and/or clubs. The kids are not able to be with their friends and teachers, which some children who have behavioral challenges need to continue their developmental growth.

There has also been an increase in agoraphobia during the last year. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder where someone has a fear of being in a place or environment outside of their home that is difficult to leave or escape. This could mean being anxious to go to a busy mall, school, or even another home.

The pandemic (in some areas) has caused some people to have difficulties adjusting back to normal life after being socially isolated for so long and fearing the viral infection. This is causing more symptoms of agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders because of the risks of leaving home and getting sick.

In order to make progress and feel better, people need to see therapists and psychologists who are trained to help them. This has become harder during the pandemic because sessions are now over the phone or over a video chat platform. COVID-19 interrupted the progress people were making and has ultimately worsened people's mental disorders.

As we are coming to a point in time where some restrictions are being lifted around the world, we need to show patience and understanding that not everyone will be ready to go back to normal life.

Some are still fearful for their lives or passing the virus to someone who is immunocompromised. Some have too much anxiety to go back to work in person. Some are still jobless and/or homeless and need support.

At this time, reflect on what has been taken from you the past year and try to work through your emotions. If you are anxious or depressed, you are far from being alone. Many people have felt overwhelmed with having to live inside their home 24/7 especially in families.

Take care of yourself. Drop your burdens and try to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Have hope and if that is too difficult to do, get help.

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