Life on Pause: COVID-19 and Mental Health
By Isabella Longo
MAY 15, 2020
Life amidst this new Coronavirus (COVID-19) is far from normal. COVID-19 is described by the World Health Organization as “an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.” This disease is most dangerous for “Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.”
This deadly virus has claimed the lives of many, and according to the New York Times, in an article dated May 3, 2020, the American death toll could rise to 100,000. As the United States desperately searches for a vaccine, most of the population has been put on a shelter-in-place order. This order, also referred to as quarantine, can have detrimental effects on the mental health of people of all ages. However, for the safety of our communities, it is crucial for non-essential workers to remain quarantined and socially distanced, yet lack of human contact and a disruption to natural routines can be detrimental to the mental health of many.
Schools, common gathering areas, and restaurants in the United States began shutting down in early March. Since that time, many shelter-in-place orders have been implemented, in several states, in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. Due to these orders, most of the nation is seemingly trapped within their own homes. The vast amount of uncertainty caused by this pandemic, coupled with limited human contact, can lead to a rise in anxiety and fear, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
In a phone interview with the Raider Review Eric Welch, the Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) Greater Orlando, said that “The National Chief Medical Officer of NAMI recently stated, in an interview, that mental health is a piece of the epidemic that will have its own waves and intensity. The National Suicide Prevention lifeline is showing a 40% increase in calls, and the National Disaster Distress Hotline is showing an 891% increase in calls.”
In regard to coping with feelings of stress and anxiety related to the virus, Mr. Welch stated that, “The mental health experts will tell you to establish a routine that works for you and makes you feel productive, try to feel as normal as you possibly can in an abnormal time.” He also emphasized the importance of getting adequate amounts of sleep, and establishing safe connections via media like Zoom, Hangouts and FaceTime.
As our nation, and the rest of the world, embrace our “new normal,” it is important to remember to care for ourselves and stay as safely connected to others as we can. Making an effort to keep routines and find healthy outlets can make all the difference during uncertain times like these.