In just a few short months, the world has rapidly changed in response to COVID-19.
Millions are feeling the effects around the globe, as social distancing measures and changes to employment continue to disrupt normal routines.
Then there’s the stress associated with the well-being of you and your family, all while you attempt to maintain a household. It’s challenging and people are feeling the effects.
Although you may be coping with these changes, not everyone is, and those impacted most might be those closest to you.
COVID-19 Is Creating a Pandemic of Mental Health Issues
A new study conducted by Qualtrics has provided new insight in regard to the current global mental health crisis. After studying 2,700 people across the United States, UK, Germany, Singapore, France, Australia, and New Zealand, representing a wide range of industries in terms of employment, it was found that since the outbreak:
- 65.9 percent of people report higher levels of stress. Some of the greatest stressors include the possibility of infection, social isolation, financial pressure, and job insecurity.
- 44.4 percent of those working from home say that their mental health has declined.
- 75.2 percent feel more socially isolated than they did before the outbreak.
- 57 percent are experiencing greater anxiety and 53 percent feel sad day-to-day.
- 54 percent say they are more emotionally exhausted.
What Does It All Mean?
Although health experts are concerned about individuals who were living with mental health disorders prior to the outbreak, as well as those living in lower-income households, the effects are being felt across the global population.
This is causing a decline in mental health among those who were otherwise psychologically healthy prior to COVID-19.
Unfortunately, loved ones who live in separate households are no longer seeing each other on a regular basis. That is why it’s imperative to stay in touch so that you can recognize potential warning signs, including:
- Increased irritability and frustration over what may appear to be small matters.
- Expressed feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or loneliness.
- Changes in appetite (a loved one may mention they’re not eating) – they may also appear to have lost interest in activities they once enjoyed (i.e. cooking, gardening, etc.).
- New, unexplained physical problems, including an increased rate of headaches or back pain, as they may be symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.
- Confused thinking or changes in personality.
- Social withdrawal. Although this is a unique time in terms of social isolation, look for changes in patterns. For example, do you typically talk to your mom on a daily basis or FaceTime your sister weekly, yet lately, they’re not as responsive?
- Signs of increased substance use.
How to Support a Family Member During This Time
Since many households are practicing social isolation, it can be challenging to support a loved one in terms of your physical presence.
The most important thing you can do is learn about the symptoms of anxiety and depression so that you can intervene if needed. If you think your loved one’s mental health has been negatively affected by COVID-19, now is the time to educate yourself.
Next, open up communication and let your loved one know that you’re there for them during this tough time. Simply say you’ve noticed changes and you’re concerned. Ask them if they’d like to speak to you about it and if not, encourage them to seek help from a professional.
If there are willing to open up to you about what they’re feeling, suggest ways in which their stressors can be addressed. For example, are they concerned about their finances? If so, you could help them find resources or programs currently offered for those in need.
Make it clear that depression and anxiety are medical conditions that are in no way a personal flaw or weakness.
Overall, the best things you can personally do are to:
- Be willing to listen
- Encourage open communication and if needed, treatment
- Help your loved one create a less stressful environment
- Encourage your loved one to practice self-care, providing tips and assistance
- Keep in touch, calling, emailing, and video chatting often
- Continue to educate yourself
You can also learn more about common mental and substance use disorders here: