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.

Quarantine Thoughts

Quarantine Thoughts

This morning I woke up and I almost didn’t want the sun to shine 
It’s as if time and space are null and void
Time is being gouged until it’s just an illusion where morning and night meet 
Where content and overwhelming emotions meet 
Where my sanity and safety converge into one and it feels as though they are the same thing 
I am like a reservoir and my eyes are fountains 
Today, I’m moving my tears away to make space for more 
Today, I am fright ridden yet so serenely calm all at once 
They say we never had control of our lives and it was always just an illusion 
But I want my lucid illusion of the world to become a reality 
To become my reality
Because in reality, I am not asking why this is happening or how this could’ve happened 
The reality is, I do not want to play a worldwide game of survival of the fittest because I know too many people who would loose 
I want to dance to the rhythm of my very breath that I am so damn thankful for because 
With every sigh of distress and with every sigh of relief I know that I am just as alive as always 
And that this too shall pass 
Tonight, when the sun will set, the midnight glow of the moon will keep me up and I’ll be wondering what will be 
But I know for sure that tomorrow will bring a new day
The sun will rise and set dozens of times more over the world 
No, even more than that 
The world has come to a standstill but my world keeps spinning until I’m dizzy to the point of nausea 
I sit with my head between my knees to ebb the flow of my tears and my thoughts that keep springing up on me 
Catching me by surprise as if I did not see nor feel it coming 
And none of us saw this coming, it reared up on us all as unexpectedly as it shouldn’t have 
But I stopped planning my life long before this all went down 
We’re all in the same boat 
But today, mine is riding in my river of tears 
And that’s okay 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Montreal Experts Weigh-In

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Montreal Experts Weigh-In

In December of 2019, there was a novel virus outbreak in the city of Wuhan, China following a unique case of pneumonia. The novel (new) virus is part of a larger family of viruses known as “coronaviruses.” As of February 11th 2020, The WHO (World Health Organization) has ‘named’ the novel coronavirus COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019,” according to a situation report published by the WHO. 

Although experts are assuring Canadian citizens that all confirmed cases of the virus on Canadian soil have been successfully contained, as this is a viral infection that is not yet treatable, I had some questions for experts in the industry. Here’s what they had to say:

Q: The WHO states novel coronaviruses, such as the Wuhan coronavirus, “is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.” Could you break down the science of a “novel coronavirus” and explain why it has not been previously identified, as well as its potential for a pandemic.

A: It is novel because it was not previously transmitted between humans before. However, COVID-19 (how it was christened by WHO) was circulating in some animal reservoirs before it “jumped” from its animal host to humans in Wuhan (China) sometime in November/December of last year. The Public Health Agency of Canada currently assesses that the risk posed by COVID-19 is low. However, epidemiologists worldwide are concerned that China might not be able to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Q: What are the most effective preventative measures that Montrealers can take to ensure the safety of such a virus?

A: COVID-19 is not present in Quebec at this time. So far, the few cases of COVID-19 that were introduced in Canada were successfully isolated and their contacts traced. As a result, Montrealers should be more concerned about the flu than COVID-19. Further, WHO recommends the same precautionary measures for flu and COVID-19: wash your hands often, practice respiratory hygiene (cough/sneeze in your elbow/tissue), avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, etc.

Q: In your opinion, should the Canadian government be worried about the potential effects of coronavirus? From a purely scientific standpoint.

A: Yes, the situation calls for proactive measures. The government is monitoring the rapidly evolving situation carefully even if the risk to Canadians is currently evaluated to be low.

– Dr. Mathieu Maheu-Giroux (Professor of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal)

Q: The symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to those of the common cold/flu. With that being said, why is there so much concern surrounding this virus?

A: Because this virus is a respiratory infection, it can progress to a more serious infection such as pneumonia, which in some serious cases can be fatal. This is why public health officials and medical institutions are being vigilant, as to limit the spread of the virus.

Q: Why is finding a vaccination for a virus so difficult?

A: It may indeed be possible to develop an effective vaccine; however, the amount of time it will take to do so is difficult to determine at this time. Some of the challenges involved in developing vaccines include the fact that viruses can change over time, and several viruses have evolved to specifically inhibit the immune response of the host.    

Q: Are there any procedures currently in place (in Quebec and/or Canada) to handle a pandemic situation?

A: I’m not an expert on public health policy, however, to the best of my knowledge, due to the recent influenza pandemics, countries worldwide (including Canada) have indeed put certain measures in place to deal with future pandemic situations, should they present themselves.

– Dr. Angela Pearson (Professor of Molecular virology and viral pathogens, Centre Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie)

Note: This interview (with Dr. Pearson) was not translated verbatim, however, was reviewed by Dr.Pearson prior to publishing.  

*Special thanks to Dr. Peter Pawelek, (Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Concordia University) who greatly assisted with discovering Montreal virology experts.

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