Since the start of the pandemic, cases of anxiety and depression have increased due to isolation caused by lockdowns, health paranoia, and economic problems.
However, along with the physical effects of COVID-19, the crisis is also generating stress for everyone resulting in more people being susceptible to mental health problems.
Mental health problems because of the pandemic have affected a lot, but mostly, people who belong in different marginalized groups.
The first is people with lower income or insecure occupations.
People from the group worry more about losing one’s job because of closing businesses amid the pandemic.
Other groups who are also greatly affected are children and students.
The reason is due to the closure of schools and universities that have disrupted students’ daily routines.
Also, the pandemic has halted huge events that students usually anticipate for such as exchange programs and graduation ceremonies.
Those reasons are reflected in a recent YoungMinds national survey.
The survey found out that 83% of its respondents believe limited social connections, school closures, and loss of routine exacerbated their already existing mental health conditions.
Another group that is often overlooked but are greatly affected are men.
The Cleveland Clinic Survey revealed in a recent national survey that around 77% of 1,000 US adult men reported their “stress level” increased because of COVID-19.
59% said they felt isolated, and 45% said the pandemic made their emotional wellbeing worse.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the reason for those numbers is because men rarely talk about it.
Another reason is men usually put off seeing a doctor for non-COVID-19 problems.
Underfunded Mental Health Services
With the increase of mental health problems worldwide, it is more worrying that many countries have also lessened their budget for it.
Between June to August 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) surveyed 130 countries worldwide.
The survey evaluated the changes in the “provision of mental, neurological, and substance use services because of COVID-19.”
It also evaluated which services were “disrupted” and how countries adapted to these.
WHO found out that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide.
The number is worrying because even before the pandemic, mental health-related services are already struggling in meeting the population’s need because of different countries’ small budgets.
For example, according to WHO, most countries only spend less than 2% of their national health budgets on mental health before the pandemic.
Moreover, 70% of the countries surveyed use “telemedicine” or “teletherapy” to overcome the lack of in-person services.
However, most of them are from high-income countries, and less than 50% of the low-income countries use them.
The problem with access to mental health services is so bad that in the UK, one in four people with mental health issues has to wait around three months before getting treatment.
According to the Guardian, the delays are so bad patients end up in A&E.
What Should We Do
Different health organizations have shared what the public should do to take care of their mental wellbeing amid the pandemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people react differently to stressful situations.
That is why WHO asks the general population to show empathy and assist people in their time of need.
Helping others is both beneficial to the helper and the one who got help, especially during this time when people feel more isolated.
Moreover, other things people can do to cope with stress, according to the CDC, are the following:
- Contact a health professional if you are concerned with COVID-19
- Ask for help and know where and how to get mental health treatment
- Take care of your emotional health
- Take breaks from reading, watching, and listening to the news, especially on social media.
- Take care of your body through meditation, exercise, taking plenty of sleep, and less intake of alcohol
- Connect and talk to people you trust
- Connect with your community