The pandemic’s toll on the mental health in the US and around the world


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Rachel Dalloo

With infection and death rates continuing to surge dramatically, the pandemic has done more than just claim lives, but also take a major toll on the mental health of those who are finding it hard to cope with the current situation.

The implementation of lockdowns and public health guidelines such as social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 can lead to individuals feeling isolated and lonely, thus causing an increase in stress and anxiety.

Throughout this global pandemic, many people from different parts of the world are trying to cope with these emotions. Everyone has their own way of dealing with their personal stress and there are resources out there to help those in need.

For students across the nation, many of them have found the toll on their mental health to be very dreadful and frightening during the pandemic.

College students are currently dealing with university related situations, such as understanding their new social environment or in this era’s case, dealing with the new online environment, also struggling to figure out their potential career paths and worrying about their personal finances, for example, getting the money to pay off their tuition, pay for their textbooks and acquire the technology equipment that is needed for students in order for them to attend their virtual classes.

In a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November of last year, showed that the percentage of emergency visits from adolescents, who were below the age of 18-years-old, were for reasons concerning their mental health and the fact that the concern had risen amidst the pandemic. This study also went on to note that compared to evidence from 2019 to 2020, emergency visits for mental health among females, who are under the age of 18 was greater than males, who went in for emergency visits. In 2020, for both males and females, who went to hospitals for visits relating to mental health, the visitation had increased in the beginning of mid-March, which continued all the way through October.

There are many ways students can cope with their mental health issues throughout the ongoing pandemic. For instance, students can reach out to their professors for more clarification when assignments might get a bit overwhelming, also connecting with other students who may be going through what they are suffering with amid the pandemic. Another solution is that students can start to be more organized with the events that may be going, per Columbia University’s Student Health on Haven.

Another group that is battling with the mental health crisis during COVID-19, are the frontline workers, for example, healthcare workers and essential workers. For healthcare workers, who are constantly around people infected by COVID-19, are now becoming frustrated, anxious, overwhelmed, burnt out and worried about seeing the heartbreaking situations before their eyes and being exposed to the disease, which causes them to fear about their loved ones contracting the disease as well. While others may not need to go outside and stay inside their homes unless it is necessary to go out, essential workers and healthcare workers have to go outside.

While the pandemic may be very troubling in the United States, there are other parts of the world that are suffering with controlling the coronavirus pandemic among their own healthcare workers. For example, in Barcelona, Spain the number of COVID-19 cases has seen a dangerous spike after the holiday season, and this is putting an unbearable amount of stress on doctors, nurses and supervisors, who are aiding those who are severely ill.

The capacity has doubled dramatically and the care unit is nearly full at Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, as approximately 80% of the Intensive Care Unit beds are being occupied by coronavirus patients, according to the Associated Press.

A recent study that has been released this month by the hospital notes that the surge in COVID-19 cases has affected mental health, on more than 9,000 health workers across Spain. The report also found that about 28% of the healthcare workers are now suffering from depression. Additionally, healthcare workers who are on the frontlines battling the deadly disease find themselves suffering from personal battles as well. The study found that healthcare workers had an increase in anxiety levels, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, substance and alcohol abuse problems.

There are many ways as to how people can begin to cope with their personal battles through this turbulent, unprecedented time in history. According to Well Span Health, individuals can slowly get better by taking the time to eat properly, plan your events ahead of time, practice mindfulness, exercise, minimize the amount of time on social media, and get plenty of sleep.