COVID stress blog

Expert advice for dealing with COVID-related stress and mental health issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on the ever-increasing need for mental health resources and support.

The pandemic has brought added stressors to many of our lives. These include financial and childcare stressors, as well as added stress surrounding social support or loss of family members due to illness. The constant nature of those raises stress hormones in your body causing an imbalance in the chemicals in the brain, which impacts mood and day-to-day function.

It is important to recognize that the constant change and the unknown caused by the pandemic has significantly increased the amount of people struggling with their mental health.

According to the CDC, up to a third of adults in this country are now reporting significant symptoms of depression and anxiety. Those rates have doubled in some areas from what it was pre-pandemic.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Lindsey Jasinski, chief administrative officer of the Eastern State Hospital campus, and Vikki Franklin, Community and Staff Engagement Director at Eastern State Hospital, recently answered questions about methods for coping with stress and mental health issues related to the pandemic.

What impact is Covid-19 having on individuals with mental illness?

 

Individuals with mental illness may lack social support; they may have other vulnerabilities like trauma that may continue to escalate or become problematic in times of stress. We also know that the system of mental health care has been taxed through this pandemic. Increasing demands and fewer staff to be able to manage those demands. As a result, services in the community are stretched very thin; much like the services in the hospitals have felt stretched.

Because of these limits, individuals with mental illness tend to fall through the gaps in those service lines. It becomes challenging for people to maintain their mental health when they don’t have access to the same support that they had pre-pandemic. So, disproportionately, individuals with severe mental illness are experiencing the effects of this pandemic even more so than the general population.

What are some healthy coping strategies for dealing with the stress that COVID has added to our lives?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ coping strategy, knowing yourself and what’s effective for you is important. It is necessary to take inventory of where we are in our lives. With an increased level of stress comes increased intentionality and time dedicated to our mental health. Find out what things trigger negative emotions in us day to day and what things bring positive emotions.

Try out these Healthy Coping Strategies:

1. Mindfulness techniques like journaling or meditating.

2. Go on walks, even just taking a 2- or 3-minute break outside can reduce stress.

3. Think about your support person or people—what do I need from those relationships to feel fulfilled?

4. Prioritize your own self-care. Watch your favorite movie, exercise, spend time reading.

5. Acknowledge that you are doing your best.

The Covid-19 pandemic has in many ways spotlighted the need to take care of ourselves and recognize our mental health as a part of our overall health. Because more people are experiencing the need for mental health services, the stigma associated with seeking support is changing.

The pandemic has switched the mindset of many people regarding mental health services, as we are beginning to normalize seeking support for mental health needs.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

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