There is no denying that Covid-19 has changed our world significantly. But while the restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of the virus have our best interests in mind, they have also taken a significant toll on our general mental health. Even if you had never experienced any kind of mental health issue before, a pandemic and multiple lockdowns, along with the financial uncertainty and social isolation are enough to make anyone feel anxious and depressed. And now that there is an end in sight thanks to multiple vaccines, our attention needs to shift to addressing some of the damage, and how we can handle the long-term impact of Covid-19 on our mental health.
The Impact of Covid-19
Unsurprisingly, the wide-reaching effects of Covid-19 have caused a lot of discussion around mental health. As we mentioned in our last blog, human beings are not meant to live in isolation (we’ve evolved to be a very social animal), and so prolonged distance from our support networks has had a huge impact on our lives. Mental health charity MIND has done extensive research into how Covid-19 has affected our mental health, and they’ve found that:
- 60% of adults and 68% of young people have said their mental health got worse during lockdown.
- Young people are more likely to have experienced poor mental health during lockdown than adults.
- People with experience of mental health problems are more likely to see their mental health worsen as a result of coronavirus restrictions.
- Many without previous experience of mental health problems have experienced poor mental health during lockdown, and have seen their mental health and wellbeing decline.
In general, those with pre-existing conditions (particularly OCD, PTSD, personality disorders and eating disorders) have struggled with this massive shift in lifestyle and additional pressure and worry. But a huge number of people who have never had mental health problems before are now starting to suffer, with rates or everything from anxiety, depression and eating disorders on the rise across the UK. It’s almost like there is a second, silent epidemic sweeping through the country, and it needs to be addressed and handled properly.
What’s Causing Poor Mental Health?
Mental health is complex thing, and even now we don’t know all of the things that can cause mental health problems in an individual. However, we do know what some of the biggest causes of mental health concerns are, and a large number of them are at play in our current Covid-19 world. That same study by MIND identified a few of the main driving factors behind the general decline in mental health, including:
- Not being able to see people (79%)
- Not being able to go outside (74%)
- Anxiety about family and friends getting Covid (74%)
- Boredom (83%)
- Loneliness, particularly in younger people (72%)
On top of that, bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are all things that can trigger mental health conditions or exacerbate existing ones. So really, it’s no wonder that we’re in the middle of a mental health emergency – and make no mistake, that’s exactly what Covid-19 has caused.
Mental Health Support
Of course, with the increase in mental health issues comes the increased need for mental health support. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has caused serious disruption to mental health services in most countries, according to studies done by WHO. And while this has highlighted the urgent need for governments to increase their investment in a chronically underfunded sector, it’s also created a backup of people needing support, but unable to access government resources.
This has led to people trying to develop their own coping mechanisms while they wait for the support they need. Some of these have been positive, while others have been destructive, and ultimately contributed to even poorer mental health. MIND discovered that the most common negative coping mechanisms for mental health problems during the pandemic included:
- Over half of young people and adults have been over or under eating to cope.
- A third of young people and adults have turned to alcohol or illegal drugs.
- More than 1 in 4 young people were self-harming.
Those who sought advice and support for their mental health used significantly more positive coping strategies than those who didn’t. Positive coping mechanisms included:
- Speaking to family and friends online.
- Practising self-compassion.
- Developing a routine.
- Finding distractions.
- Minimizing the amount of news they consumed.
So what can you do if you need support at the moment, but are struggling to access help through the NHS? Of course there is the option of private support through clinics like the Holistic Healthcare Group, where we can offer online mental health services and support where possible, and provide you with information to help you cope through the current crisis. You could also try using a mental health app like MELP. MELP is designed to give you easy access to information about mental health, as well as the support and resources you need to manage any issues you may be dealing with at the moment. We will support you not only in treating acute issues, but helping you build a selection of tools that can help you manage your mental health in the future.
If you would like to know more about our mental health resources, or feel that you need help, please just get in touch with us today.