The Psychological Impact of COVID-19: How Did Covid Affect Collective Mental Health?

The Psychological Impact of COVID-19: How Did Covid Affect Collective Mental Health?

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COVID-19 has had some positive and negative effects on the environment, but how has it affected mental health? And, did the virus affect mental health more positively or negatively?COVID-19 has had some positive and negative effects on the environment, but how has it affected mental health? And, did the virus affect mental health more positively or negatively?

Unemployment Crisis

First, let’s talk about unemployment. The National Bureau of Economic Research has declared US unemployment rates as one of the major economic downturns after the Great Depression. Due to strict stay-at-home orders, in response to the Coronavirus disease, according to the Congressional Research Service, the rate of unemployment in the US was 14.8% in April 2020. This unemployment spike resulted in many people being jobless and by extension, not having any way to earn money to satisfy their needs. However, for various socio-political reasons, by the end of December, this rate had declined to 6.7% in December 2020.              

According to the American Psychological Association, unemployment rates triggered widespread psychological distress, which is defined as “a form of worry” or “symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.” In addition, Policy Options magazine stated that the group most affected by the closure of workplaces, caused by the pandemic, was young women.

In Canada, the unemployment rates between February and April 2020 increased by 14.3% for males and 20.4 % for females. However, Canada announced several Unemployment Insurance Benefits to help people who got sick or lost their jobs due to covid.    In Canada, the unemployment rates between February and April 2020 increased by 14.3% for males and 20.4 % for females. However, Canada announced several Unemployment Insurance Benefits to help people who got sick or lost their jobs due to covid.

Effect on Sociality and Education

According to the World Economic Forum, the “COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever.” The pandemic formed major barriers to education and youth. Most educational institutions around the world had to quickly adapt to the new realities in order to reduce the transmission of the virus. To solve this problem, online (or hybrid) teaching was introduced, however, another obstacle came into fruition, this obstacle being an extension of poor politics and social inequality. Some students did not have access to digital devices or had poor internet, while some students did. In fact,

according to the World Economic Forum, nearly 25% of students from unprivileged backgrounds in the US did not have access to a computer for educational purposes. 

social-isolation-and-covid-19

Patricia Perez, an Associate Professor of International Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology shed light on another daunting factor about how COVID has affected the youth population around the world in writing, “young people like to make plans for the future, and it’s difficult to do that when they don’t know how long this new way of life will last.” Patricia Perez, an Associate Professor of International Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology shed light on another daunting factor about how COVID has affected the youth population around the world in writing, “young people like to make plans for the future, and it’s difficult to do that when they don’t know how long this new way of life will last.”                      

This new system of learning has made students lazy and unmotivated. There is no physical activity, no social contact, and therefore, no motivation, which teachers stimulated in classroom environments.            

As mentioned in the Daily Orange newspaper, lack of face-to-face interactions has been linked to anxiety and depression, since many people are only seeing others through digital screens.

Why The Curfews?

In response to the spread of COVID-19, curfews and lockdowns became the favored methods for controlling the spread of the disease. In an article published by Global Dev online blog, the authors ask a tough question: Should curfews and lockdowns cost us our mental health? Mental health might be both the cause and consequence of social and physical isolation.                

Observations were recorded before and after US state-wide lockdowns, and it was noted that the mental health of individuals living in states with strict stay-at-home orders deteriorated more than those living in states without such tough restrictions. As a result, in the U.S., symptoms of depression and anxiety rose to around forty percent during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to eleven percent in early 2019. The Mental Health Foundation tried to offer the suggestion to stay connected, eat healthily, keep active in order to not let the stay-at-home orders affect mental health… Easier said than done?more than those living in states without such tough restrictions. As a result, in the U.S., symptoms of depression and anxiety rose to around forty percent during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to eleven percent in early 2019. The Mental Health Foundation tried to offer the suggestion to stay connected, eat healthily, keep active in order to not let the stay-at-home orders affect mental health… Easier said than done?

Mental State

Although it is true that depression, anxiety, and suicide were present before COVID-19, these mental illnesses have seen a dramatic increase since the start of the pandemic. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) conducted a survey on adults aged eighteen years or more across the United States in 2020, and the results showed that forty-point-nine percent of individuals surveyed displayed at least one mental or behavioral health condition, and around thirty-point-nine reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.

As a result, the CDC published a Help Guide. The guide introduced some coping mechanisms to help reduce the severity of these illnesses. The guide included things such as eating healthy, the use of reminders to keep yourself on track, and practicing some kind of activity such as breathing exercises.               

This deadly virus has affected all of our lives in one or another. Some people have lost jobs and suffered from depression, but we all need not lose hope because we will overcome this battle together. Remember that there are online workshops provided to overcome stress as well as government resources to help people maintain their daily life.

Stress Management

Stress Management

How does Stress affect our body?

What is stress? According to the Mental Health foundation, stress is our body’s response to pressure related situations which can lead to physical, mental and emotional changes. When we feel like we are in danger, our bodies go into a “fight” or “flight” response. Stress can cause short term as well as long term health issues or problems. Catecholamines (including adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones) are triggered by the adrenal gland during the short term stress. Similarly, during long term stress cortisol is released and a high increase of cortisol leads to Cushing’s syndrome, which makes you feel tired and weak. Even though stress is unpredictable, there are many ways to control it. These include following a proper healthy diet, exercise and getting enough sleep.

Why follow a healthy diet? 

Following a proper diet is very important for our body. According to Matthew J. Kuchan, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at Abbott, “Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body,” These include cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and high blood pressure. According to the VeryMindwell article, coffee does boost your body immediately but it also increases the cortisol levels in your body. Fish and nuts contain omega 3-fats, which play a role in the regulation of mood.  In an article published by the journal Nutrients, researchers Jiwon Kim and Jihye Kim have found that green tea which contains an amino acid, called theanine, which acts as an anti-stress benefit for people fighting with depression. At the end of the day, it is very important to take a proper healthy diet.

Feel Fresh, Feel Good

 The most important factors in reducing stress is exercise. We already know that exercise is good for weight loss and improving muscle strength but did you know it also helps in the production of endorphins? According to an Exercise and Depression article, their role is to reduce pain and increase positive feelings. The famous philosopher, “Saint Thomad Aquanias”, mentioned that, “All men need leisure”. Exercise is a way to distract ourselves from the daily grind of our lives.  When we are involved in  some type of physical activity, our minds are relaxed and we are able to think freely.

Connection between Stress and Sleep levels

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is mandatory. As per the National Sleep foundation guidelines, an adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Usually if our cortisol level increases during the night, it will disrupt the release of melatonin. This hormone controls the sleep-wake cycle. In an article written by Sleepscore, research shows that lack of sleep can make you more impulsive, and more sensitive to negative stimuli. Sleep deprivation can give rise to stress in a number of ways. It is our job to give our brain some rest so that we can be active and improve our concentration, thinking skills.

Small efforts lead to good results

In order to be able to reduce or overcome stress, we should begin to follow a healthy diet meal, perform some sort of physical activity and most importantly get the right amount of sleep. These small efforts will allow your brain to think freely. You will feel confident and full of energy.

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