The COVID-19 pandemic does not only affect the physical health of our community. It has become clear that the pandemic is causing mental health issues like stress, anxiety and depression.
Although some people have felt a bit more anxious since the beginning of the pandemic, it has triggered more serious mental health issues for others. And worldwide, mental health experts are concerned about the possible long-term effects Covid-19 will have on our mental well-being.
The Effect Of The Pandemic On Our Minds
In South Africa, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) reported having received an influx of calls since COVID-19 has emerged. Before the pandemic, SADAG received around 600 calls per day which escalated to 1,400 calls per day since the pandemic began. More calls came from people distressed by grief, anxiety, depression, financial strain, job loss, and concerns about the well-being of their children.
Since 2020, our lives have changed drastically. With the fear, uncertainty, insecurity, helplessness, and grief on our minds, we are undoubtedly experiencing trauma. In this regard, mental health experts believe that higher mental distress during the pandemic will inevitably cause an increase in mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
A Community In Crisis
Covid-19 confronted us with factors directly influencing our mental health. We have encountered the loss of loved ones, social isolation, the stress experienced by our frontline workers especially, a rise in domestic violence and substance abuse, and the impact of an economic recession.
People have lost their jobs, have gone deeper into debt, and are constantly worried about money. Some have experienced grief and loss, dealt with anxiety and burnout, and felt stressed and uncertain for an extended period.
The sudden closure of schools impacted our children’s mental health. At the same time, teachers and parents did not feel equipped to assist them in transitioning to the “new normal” while processing their own fears and concerns. For many teenagers, the fear, disappointment and pressure became almost unbearable.
It is not surprising that many people are left feeling depressed, anxious or even suicidal.
Mental Health Problems For Covid Survivors
Furthermore, a found that a third of Covid-19 survivors suffer neurological or mental health problems within six months, with anxiety and depression disorders being most common. A previous study by the same researchers found that 20% of Covid-19 survivors were diagnosed with a mental health disorder within three months after battling the virus.
In general, these findings could suggest that we might expect a wave of mental health problems in Covid-19 survivors.
Be On The Lookout
As a community, we need to be observant of our own mental health and the psychological well-being of those around us.
- Reach out and stay connected to friends and family.
- Look for WARNING SIGNS that may indicate someone is struggling and needs help.
- If you or someone you know feel overwhelmed, reach out to a mental health professional, a helpline, or a friend. Have a plan ready for immediate mental health support.
- Don’t use alcohol or other substances to deal with difficult emotions.
The current situation may be escalating the symptoms of people with mental health problems, so it is vital to take extra care.
- Practice daily self-care rituals
- Don’t cancel scheduled appointments with mental healthcare professionals because of COVID-19. Ask for an online session if necessary.
- Stick to your prescribed medication regime and inform your doctor of any changes.
You Are Not Alone
For mental health support and information, call or WhatsApp the Life Path Health-Helpline at 072 7900 506. Their private mental health facilities provide professional mental health and addiction treatment at medical aid rates.