The Coronavirus Outbreak is Overwhelming to People’s Mental Health
With the novel coronavirus outbreak of 2020 raging across the world with little end in sight, people’s mental health is starting to become seriously impacted. There’s no easy way to say this — people are struggling right now.
Stay-at-home orders, while invaluable and helping from a public health perspective, are taking their toll on people’s emotional state. And if you were already vulnerable due to a mental illness diagnosis or concern you were grappling with, the outbreak of COVID-19 has only made things worse.
The problem is that most public health experts are spending time talking about the physical components of the coronavirus — the symptoms, testing, how contagious it is, possible treatments, and vaccines. Very few doctors and policy makers are talking about the equally important toll the virus is taking on people’s mental health. For many people, this toll has overwhelmed their ability to cope and get through the day intact.
Crisis Helpline & Chat Services Overwhelmed
You don’t have to look far to see how overwhelming it’s become. And it’s only going to get worse.
According to ABC News, “Last month the ‘Disaster Distress Helpline’ at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) saw an 891% increase in call volume compared with March 2019, according to a spokesman for the agency, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.”
Another valuable service, the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741 to start a chat with a trained volunteer), has seen an eye-opening 40% increase in texter volume due to the mental health effects of COVID-19 and states’ stay-at-home orders. They also report that the types of issues have shifted: they’re seeing a 48% increase in sexual abuse conversations and a 74% increase in domestic violence conversations.
It appears that people’s patience is on edge and wearing thin. People are lonely and tired of sitting at home. And instead of taking healthy steps to help cope with their feelings, they’re turning to unhealthy coping methods — arguing, abuse, and violence.
Increasing Resources in Times of COVID-19
Luckily, organizations and the government aren’t standing by idly waiting for this crisis to turn into something even worse. According to ABC News:
Trump signed the $2 trillion emergency relief package known as the “CARES Act,” which set aside $425 million for SAMHSA “to address mental health and substance use disorders as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.” Another $100 million is marked to supplement the agency’s federal grant programs, according to Health and Human Services.
The bill also included $250 million for “Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics” to increase access to mental health care services, and another $50 million for suicide prevention efforts, according to HHS.
All of this money will help, but I’m afraid it still won’t be enough to avert the impending crisis. People are losing their jobs or have been laid off indefinitely. People are losing their homes and apartments, because they can’t pay the rent. People are losing their loved ones and can’t say goodbye, due to the quarantine restrictions of people with COVID-19. And people are losing their relationships over all of this stress piling on, day after day, with no end in sight.
On a brighter note, the Crisis Text Line is also stepping up, committing to cover 32% of the world with its service by the end of 2022 — 2 1/2 years ahead of schedule. They offer an amazing service, and one that you should check out if you feel in crisis or immediate need of someone to talk to right now.
Now’s a good time to reach out. If you’re in need, get help. Don’t assume your feelings will just “go away” on their own, or lessen over time. The opposite may be true, given how much we still need to know about the virus. If you know someone in your life that has become withdrawn or doesn’t seem to connect with you much any more, reach out to them. Check in on them to make sure they’re doing okay, by text, video, or even the phone.
Your caring may make all the difference in the world to people who are struggling the most right now.
Need help right now? Call the Disaster Distress Line at 800-985-5990 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by typing HOME to 741741 on your smartphone.
Grohol, J. (2020). The Coronavirus Outbreak is Overwhelming to People’s Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 9, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-coronavirus-outbreak-is-overwhelming-to-peoples-mental-health/