The Mental Health Crisis of the Pandemic is Destroying Lives

Mental Illness by Alachua County is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the hidden costs of the pandemic has been the mental health crisis it has caused. In addition to soaring rates of depression, anxiety, domestic abuse, alcoholism and substance abuse, many people have simply lost hope.

With no real end in sight and the economy collapsing around them, working families and individuals who were hoping to plan their future have been left in the dust with their heads in their hands.

It’s a recipe for mental health disaster, with phone calls to suicide crisis lines up thousands of percent, but you wouldn’t know it from the way the media shies away from the subject.

panic anxiety 031 by khumana is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Breaking Down

One of the biggest triggers of serious depression and anxiety is isolation combined with economic crisis. For many ordinary workers who have been laid off or seen their hours cut, the fact of not knowing where to go next and being unable to get enough food is a huge problem.

In addition, more and more people are literally living in their vehicles and cars. Just because the federal government has extended the moratorium on evictions doesn’t mean people have been able to afford the overall expenses of their apartments and homes and many have already lost the ability to pay for a place to live in any case.

In terms of numbers, a new Pew Poll says more than 70% of people who’ve lost work in the pandemic are feeling very stressed and 50% said they are dealing with anxiety and depression. In addition, a whopping 81% have reported that they have felt alone and fought with family and friends since losing work and struggling during the pandemic.

This is a dark, dark time, and it’s not only because of the many lives tragically lost to COVID-19-related illness.

‘We are Having an Extended and Real Experience of Catastrophic Loss’

According to the Pew poll author Kim Parker, “not only is unemployment putting people in a more vulnerable financial situation, but our survey founds it’s also having a negative impact on their emotional well-being,”

Psychologist Robin Smith, who’s been helping a lot of folks out during the pandemic said that unemployment is a big hit to take because “unemployment at any time takes a significant toll because employment is connected to identity and self-worth” and “we are bearing witness to more than just job loss. We are having an extended and real experience of catastrophic loss.”

Smith’s point is well taken here, and it’s also worth considering all those who were already having trouble finding work and are now trapped in an even bigger hole because of the ongoing lockdowns and situation.

What’s the Way Out?

As a wise person once said, “the only way out is through.” Communities need to band together and people need to think of this as a mental work out. Isolation is one of the cruelest things you can do to people but through solidarity and reaching out – even virtually – to each other we can get through this.

Whether it’s through your faith and prayer, physical exercise in a home gym, meditation and spirituality or learning new skills like cooking, crafting or painting, now is a time when you have to do whatever it takes to stay afloat.

For many people the currently biggest problem is simply keeping a roof over their head and finding enough money to eat. In that case there is no shame in reaching out for financial help or local resources like food banks. This is a very difficult time and you are not alone. Stay strong, my friends.