What We Know About COVID19
COVID 19 also known as the Corona virus is a respiratory illness that has proven to be highly contagious and result in hospitalization and even death. This global pandemic originated in China and made its way over to the United Stated in January of 2020. By late February the country started to see restriction put in place to promote social distancing and attempt to prevent the spread of the disease. By Mid march most of the world is under quarantine. As the virus spreads and the death toll rises we are left in uncertainty about when this will end.
I am not going to lie this has been a very difficult post to write. Its taken me weeks to even wrap my head around the reality of the situation and how I feel about it. Although I can not speak on the experiences of all people I can certainly reflect on my own. In California we have seen heavy restrictions and an alarming number of cases being reported daily. Across the state I am seeing my friends and family lose employment, both temperately and permanently, and struggle under isolation. I fear for the safety of those I care about and worry about my own health at the same time.
Mental Health Impact
The impact of this situation on the mental health of an individual is multifaceted. Currently we balance the line between calm and panic. with none of us know what we are doing.
- Humans are not meant to isolate, we are social creatures that thrive off of relationships. Unfortunately with social distancing this is a basic need many are going without.
- Humans don’t tend to do well when faced with uncontrollable situations, especially if they effect those we care about. Instead we like to feel in control of our lives and like the feeling of things being safe.
- Humans strive off of purpose. We set goals and find a feeling of accomplishment from our jobs and roles we play in society.
Right now none of these basic human needs are being met which is bound to impact the mental health of an many individuals. Most notably this situation is likely to increase the prevalence of Anxiety and Depression in the world as people struggle with the unknown and cope with the many changes and restrictions.
The snowball effect the COVID 19 pandemic will have impacts many at risk groups.
Those with mental health disorders:
With depression and anxiety on the rise many individuals with a predisposition to these mental health disorder or other similar disorders will find an increase in symptoms and triggers. An increase in Suicide is also possible if the mental health strain become more then these individuals can bear. For example: Individuals with OCD related disorders may struggle with increased disease potential while those with PTSD may struggle with isolation.
Those physically at risk
Individuals with compromised immune systems or those with higher risk of respiratory complications are a topic often addressed in the media and are one of the driving forces in pushing people to isolate. But aside from the health risks these individuals are also subject to increased anxiety and depression as they have to take extra precautions to social distance and worry about their own health. While many of us will still make a run to the grocery story and just be as safe as possible, these individuals can not even risk it.
Those of domestic violence risk
Two factors that have been shown to contribute to the frequency of domestic violence is increased stress and substance use. As people are losing jobs and being forced to stay home, the likelihood that both of those will increases is guaranteed. The worse part is that with schools and none essential businesses closing victims or abuse and violence are being forced into isolation with their abuser.
Those with unstable finances
Those with unstable finances can include everything from low income ranges to small business owners to non essential employees. As people are forced to stay home and illness run rampant these individuals will have more financial burden then before. Limiting this flow of money will prevent these individuals from purchasing needed supplies, seeking medical attention and could have long term impacts on the economy.
What Can We Do
First and foremost we need too comply with stay at home orders. For many of these individuals the only solution will be to end the quarantine quickly and eliminate the impact it is having.
As we wait for that to happen it is recommended that you take care of our own mental health and do what you can to look out from those most heavily impacted.
- Only buy what you need
- Support local businesses
- Donate to causes (GoFundMe)
- Check in on at risk individuals (Suicide Prevention Hotline) 1-800-273-8255
- If you know something say something (Domestic Violence Hotline) 1-800-799-7233
- STAY HOME!
Don’t forget to take care of yourself!
Find Purpose in Each Day: Finding things to motivate you and produce little accomplishments can boost mood and make the days go faster. Plant the garden you always wanted to plant, clean our that junk drawer or make sure your kid finally understands fractions.
Practice Self Care: It is easy to avoid self care time if we are not feeling productive or when our normal routine is disrupted. But just because we were at home all day doesn’t mean we don’t deserve some fun and focused relaxation as well.
Get Up, Get Ready and Get Moving: Its tempting to bypass the shower, stay in your PJs and eat junk food all day. But our physical health can have a big impact on our mental health. So take that shower, grab that banana for breakfast and do your yoga! Your body will thank you and your mental health will improve.
Stay Connected…and Unconnected: Monitor technology uses. If more of your days is spent stressing about news articles then connecting with friends and family make the change. Stet up times to video chat, join an online game (D&D and Cards Against Humanity are both offered online!), or watch a movie with the family…and turn off the news.
Get Outside (Safely): Taking a walk in the neighborhood or sitting on the patio with your morning cup of coffee is an amazing way to feel connected to the world. We can all use a little sun and breeze to clear our heads, plus its a great way to get some exercise. Can’t leave the house? Try spending some time with the windows open in order to alleviate the stuffiness of inside time.
I know it can be frustrating to watch people not taking this situation serious especially when you or someone you care about is so heavily impacted. The truth of the matter is that we are all in this together and it is important that we all act in the interest of our neighbors friends and family as well as ourselves. The impact of this has the chance to change the world as we know it. The question becomes how will we contribute to this change? All over the world acts of kindness are being shown and this is what we need to be a part of.
As a child who grew up in an abusive home my heart breaks for the many people living in these conditions. I know what poverty, violence and substance use looks like and if I am being honest with myself I doubt I would have come out of this situation alive. Please take care of each other out there and lets put an end to this as quickly as possible!