By: Shauna Smith
It is hard to believe that one year ago, March would have changed our lives drastically. Around this time, many college students like myself believed we were getting an extended spring break and that this illness spreading around the world was some false joke. We quickly began to see this was serious and we would be forced to adjust to a new normal.
Many questions consumed the world such as, How did this begin?, When does it end?, What will life be like following this?, These are questions that have remained unanswered and yet, minimal questions have been asked about the well-being of those in isolation. It is no surprise to anyone that this has been detrimental to mental health and those who have suffered with mental health issues previously are the worst they’ve ever been. According to kff.org, 4 in 10 adults have reported symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders as a result of the pandemic that have impacted their sleep, eating, increase In alcohol consumption, and worsening chronic conditions. Before the pandemic, about 1 in 5 Americans were impacted by anxiety and depression was the leading cause of disability, as stated by the Indiana University Health Department. Not only is contracting the virus a large risk to mental health, but the conditions and panic surrounding it.
Unfortunately, it has taken this pandemic for many to realize the disabling effects of mental health challenges and has created an understanding that it should have always been a priority in this country and this community. People everyday have lost loved ones, their occupations, and felt the the stress of their children not being able to attend schools. Younger individuals have missed social interactions with their peers, a personal learning experience, and some have been forced to move back home after experiencing their independence. As we get used to life during a pandemic, we must never get used to a life where mental wellness is not a priority.
So how do we combat this and provide support to those in need?
We can provide support to those who need us by looking for the signs that they are suffering. Depression and anxiety look different for many of those that struggle and it can be brought to light by having the difficult conversations necessary to understand each individual’s situation. In a time when many are closed off and in fear of the world, I challenge us all to find kindness, to help those around us and to spread love in this discouraging and challenging time. With all of our efforts, Covid will not last forever and we must remain focused that when it does end, we will continue to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health.