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How the Pandemic Affected the Way We Approach Mental Health

If the pandemic has been negatively affecting your mental health, you’re not alone. COVID-19 brought along many challenges for people from job insecurity to the constant feeling of isolation, which has significantly impacted our mental health. The public health crisis has been stressful and overwhelming for everyone. 

According to a KFF Health Tracking Poll from July 2020, many adults have reported “negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.” 

Women have been experiencing these negative impacts on mental health to a higher degree. A report published by Frontiers in Global Women’s Health stated that symptoms linked to anxiety and depression were found at higher rates in women than men. “Generally, the study found women reporting more anxiety and depression,” said study author Veronica Guadagni to WebMD. “Their symptoms worsened over time and with greater length of the isolation period.” 

This may be attributed to a number of factors, including increased familial responsibilities and higher rates of job loss compared to men. Medical News Today reported that people of color and other marginalized communities face unique mental health challenges from the rest of the population. 

The CDC has given guidelines on how to promote your wellbeing during the pandemic, including taking breaks from upsetting content like the news, staying connected with loved ones, and taking care of your body. However, the mental toll of the pandemic has been pushing many to seek out professional help.

Because of lockdown, it may seem like therapy and other mental health resources are not an option during the pandemic. However, online wellness apps such as Talkspace and BetterHelp have reported an influx of new users in 2020, showing the growth of the digital therapy industry. These digital therapy apps offer professional counseling online via instant messaging, video chats, or phone calls. According to CNBC News, “first-time downloads of the top 20 mental wellness apps in the U.S. hit 4 million” in April 2020, which is up 29% from January. 

Apps like Headspace and Calm have also made waves in the mental wellness sector, providing guided meditations and courses regarding topics such as managing anxiety and navigating change.

The pandemic exacerbated the need for widespread and accessible mental health resources for the general population, growing the digital therapy industry and helping the de-stigmatization of getting professional help. However, this growth proposes new challenges concerning users’ privacy and security regarding these applications.

While the newness of the online mental health space may bring some unique challenges, many are hopeful its growth in popularity will stress the importance of mental wellness while normalizing the topic within society. Increasing the accessibility of mental health resources will benefit marginalized and underserved communities, which is a step in the right direction in our book. 

Photo by Engin Akyurt via Unsplash.

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