The Pandemic’s Pressures on Mental Health
Maureen Lynch, Staff Writer
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States back in January, no one knew what to expect. Since then, this pandemic has wreaked chaos in most Americans’ lives. This upheaval puts strain on the psyche, which has more people seeking help for mental health concerns.
Currently there are 6.64 million COVID-19 cases in the United States. 125,000 of those cases are in Massachusetts. It goes without saying that tensions over the global pandemic have impacted people’s mental health. “Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children,” reported the Center for Disease Control. Though this pandemic has hit everyone in different and difficult ways, a recent survey by the CDC shows that a disproportionate number of children and young adults have considered suicide in the last 30 days. College students may be suffering from worsening mental health. According to an article by CNBC, college students are not only having to deal with the tension that comes with the global pandemic, but also with persecution by the media. Though many schools are cracking down on unsafe behaviors, the endless media coverage of wild campus partying has taken over the news feeds. ‘“When you look at public sentiment, I feel very strongly that college students get a bad rap for not caring about anyone and really only caring about themselves,”’ said Jessi Gold, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, a source for the CNBC article. This “bad rap” may cause students to feel they are taking the heat for a small minority of college students.
College students face many challenges, but never more so than right now. Mental health is an important aspect of a person’s health. Mental health is defined by the CDC as “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” Mental health is important because it can affect all aspects of people’s lives, including their physical health, which is especially important during these times. People who are suffering from worsening mental health problems are likely to feel tired, detached or disinterested, and will likely experience a change in their normal sleeping and eating patterns. Such feelings or patterns are key signs of deteriorating mental health.
Experiencing a huge life change is quite enough on its own, and college students re likely to experience a dip in their mental state, especially college freshman. People who are at an increased risk of worsening mental health now include those with preexisting conditions, typically medical issues, or those with family members with underlying medical conditions. People who have a mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression, are also at an increased risk.
Though the global situation seems dim, it is still important, necessary even, to maintain mental health. There varying ways, a person can improve their mental health. According to medlineplus.gov, some of the best, or easiest ways to improve mental health are coloring, exercise, maintain a healthy diet, meditation, detaching from social media, experimenting with new hobbies, keeping a journal (particularly a gratitude journal), and last but not least, just smiling. These are only a few examples of things a person can do to improve their mental health. Of course, if a person is experiencing severe mental health issues or thoughts of suicide, they should seek professional or medical help as soon as possible. However, if the situation is not so severe, these are a few suggestions for improving mental health. The CDC also has a list of options for improving a person’s mental health on their website.
Times may be grim, however, taking care of ourselves is becoming increasingly more important. Mental health is a massive component of a person’s overall wellbeing. After all, Naomi Judd once said, “Your body hears everything the mind says.”