Due to the current pandemic, we are all hyper aware of physical illness and the symptoms that go with it. We monitor our breathing, coughing, temperature, and the list goes on. We wear masks, use hand sanitizer, and wash our hands to prevent the spread to ourselves and others. But, what we don’t talk about as much is mental health issues that are exacerbated during a time where social distancing and being quarantined in close quarters has been going on for over four months. So, in this post we are going to pull away the curtain and “get real” about mental health in the time of COVID-19.
First, let’s address the effects of isolation/living alone. While many people enjoyed the peace and quiet of quarantine in the first month, even the most die hard introvert began to feel the effects of quarantine within 6 weeks. Whether the lack of human touch or spending time eating and talking with friends, the solitude can be deafening and stressful. Those of us who live alone don’t get to eat with another person since restaurants and bars are closed. The thought of getting sick can be panic inducing as well. Who will take care of us? And forget dating! Loneliness is already becoming a major issue, even without a pandemic. Any pre-existing mental illness, whether depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety, etc is also heightened without an active support system (or a system that has greatly decreased due to quarantine regulations).
Even if you don’t feel the loneliness of quarantining alone, you might be feeling stress from being cooped up with family or friends. Love your spouse & family? I am sure you do, but trust me, no amount of love is going to keep you from annoying each other in some way, shape or form. Being stuck inside with the same people for months on end, with little time apart can make the most even-keel and tolerant of us a little irritated and stir crazy. It takes a lot of good communication to articulate the need for alone time and quiet. While a child or significant other that is an extrovert may not normally bother your introvert self, under quarantine its a completely different story. Taking mental health breaks, even if only for an hour or two, is paramount to good mental health care.
Our final topic is something that must be discussed no matter how ugly it is: domestic violence during quarantine. This is a serious issue and one that needs attention. Being in an abusive relationship is horrifying without an epidemic where there is quarantine and lock-down directives. Now, imagine being forced to live with an abuser with little to no way out. Abusive behavior also tends to be exacerbated during stressful situations i.e. pandemic quarantine/lock-down. Even if someone plans on leaving an abuser & abusive situation, shelter rules and regulations have changed and access to care has changed or diminished. But, there are avenues of help and assistance. Here is a good article that talks about this issue: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/world/coronavirus-domestic-violence.html
Here are some resources to reach out to in case your mental health is suffering:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (suicidepreventionlifeline.org)
SAMHSA National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP(4357) (SAMHSA.gov/find-help/national-helpline)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (thehotline.org)
If you are looking for online therapy sessions and virtual mental health help, here is a link that gives a variety of therapy sites: https://www.verywellmind.com/best-online-therapy-4691206