How COVID-19 Changed the Way People Are Viewing Mental Health

Stay-at-home orders, unemployment, loneliness, economy shutdown, climbing death rates, mask-wearing, and social distancing has been the theme for 2020 and most likely will also be the theme for 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world. It has taken lives and livelihoods and has changed how we work, how we go to school, how we interact with others, and how we view the world.

We have stayed home, learned to adapt through virtual interactions, and found creative outlets for our time. Some of us have learned new skills and had to drastically change the way we make an income while others continue to struggle to make ends meet. Many of us have struggled with feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety during this pandemic.

We have turned to alcohol, drugs, and unhealthy relationships with food as ways to deal with our feelings. Mental health, addiction, eating disorders, domestic abuse, and suicide have been on the rise during this pandemic. Regardless of our opinions about this pandemic, the economy, or the politics involved, COVID-19 has changed the way we are viewing mental health.

We Connected Virtually 

When COVID-19 began, the world had to quickly adapt. Both people seeking mental health care and mental health care providers had to immediately switch to online therapy, or teletherapy, despite little (or no) experience with it.

Before the pandemic, studies had already shown that online therapy is effective for many mental health concerns, but this pandemic has solidified its importance, convenience, and effectiveness.

Overall, online therapy has changed the way we are practicing mental health and most likely it will continue to thrive after we overcome this pandemic. Mental health, eating disorders, and addiction services are now more accessible to those of us who have access to Wi-Fi.

We can connect with a therapist at any hour of the day from the comfort of our own homes. We can jump on a quick video call or chat to discuss rising anxious feelings instead of waiting weeks for an appointment. Our mental health can be addressed right away instead of having ongoing symptoms before we're able to find treatment—something that will continue even after the pandemic.

We Created Self-Care Routines 

It is nearly impossible to browse the Internet these days without coming across an article that addresses self-care during this pandemic. Many of us have learned to be still, to be okay with being alone, and to stay at home and find ways to nurture our minds and bodies.

Maybe we never thought about our mental health before, or reflected on our feelings, but this pandemic has moved many of us to take action to care for ourselves more deeply.

Whether we are cooking for ourselves, exercising at home, connecting with our loved ones through virtual platforms, or learning new hobbies and pastimes, COVID-19 has allowed us to be more in tune with our feelings and emotions.

We have been given the gift of time and stillness, which has allowed us to practice self-care. Hopefully, when this pandemic ends, we can continue to practice self-care and take a solid inventory of our emotions and feelings throughout the day. 

We Embraced the Outdoors 

We were told we cannot travel and we must socially distance, so people found creative ways to use their outdoor space. Whether it is biking, walking, fishing, or hiking, mass amounts of people fled into the wild outdoors (or their own backyard) to clear their heads and find peace.

Being in wide-open spaces not only allows us to socially distance but it has allowed us to connect with nature, an incredible coping mechanism. Learning to turn to outdoor experiences as healthy coping mechanisms is something we can utilize time and time again when we are stressed or feeling down throughout the pandemic and beyond.

We Destigmatized Mental Health

COVID-19 has really impacted our mental health and many individuals who lived full, successful lives before this pandemic have been shaken to their core. Individuals who never imagined they would experience feelings of depression or anxiety are now learning that mental health disorders can affect anyone at any time.

We have spoken out about our mental health on social media, we are sharing our feelings, and we are advocating for therapy. As a result, we are breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction.

This pandemic has broken us down and has shown us that we all are at risk for developing depression or a substance use disorder. Hopefully when we return to our “normal lives” we can continue to recognize and fight for access to mental health treatment. 

A Word From Verywell

As the COVID-19 vaccine begins to become widely available, many of us have hope that this pandemic will soon end, but the mental health effects will still need to addressed. We must continue to check in with ourselves and with each other, to fight for access to mental health treatment, and to find peace and self-care in our daily lives.

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