A teenage boy isolates himself during the Covid-19 pandemic
It’s time to focus on your mental health. In 2021, the term “how to maintain mental health” was being searched more than ever. Soon we will conclude a full two years of the Covid-19 pandemic with its accompanying bans, closings and trauma. But the pandemic also sparked increased interest in mental health.
Psychiatrists report an increased demand for psychiatric services. The psychiatrist Dr. Hindi Mermelstein believes that our isolated and withdrawn state during the pandemic changed our sense of danger and risk in the world as a whole. You read the newspaper and hear the news and “everything looks bad”. She also sees that we have temporarily lost our normal ways of dealing with the normal world, such as socializing, traveling, doing activities, and regular work and school schedules.
“I definitely see and hear it. In every healthcare and social setting, I hear more and more from adults suffering from anxiety and depression about the immediate crisis like the fear of going out and the fear of getting something . ” Illness and death unleashed since the pandemic began. It’s hard for people to reset their risk awareness and understand that with Covid-19 in December 2021, we will not be where we were in March 2020 and that we are moving towards endemic status like we learned about the flu to live, “said Dr. Mermelstein.
Both the pandemic and our response to it have created mental health problems. Elisheva Liss, LMFT, psychotherapist in her own practice and author, sees an increasing need for psychiatric services due to the pandemic. “When people are home alone, or just with their partners or immediate family, it is like being trapped in a petri dish of their own concentrated fears, frustrations, and pathologies rather than diluting their interactions with other places and human diversity. “
In addition, Liss believes that society has “increased our dependence on virtual life and digital functioning. It is clear that social media serve to intensify emotional experiences, opinions and conflicts, also and especially with regard to reactions to the virus variants and the vaccines. It highlights tensions that may have been dispelled or kept in check, and so many are looking for help in dealing with and healing all of this. “
This month, General Surgeon Dr. Vivek Murphy wrote a counselor on the mental health crisis of young people, calling for a “quick and coordinated response” to this growing problem exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. A joint statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association, to declare a national state of emergency for children’s mental health.
Dr. Sarah Becker, MD, Co-Chief Fellow, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the Donald & Barbara Zucker School of Medicine in Hofstra / Northwell, sees this firsthand. She reports an increased demand for urgent mental health services. “Our pediatric psychiatric emergency room is being inundated with numbers we’ve never seen before. CDC data showed that in the first few months of 2021, emergency room visits for teenage girls for suspected suicide attempts rose 50% year over year.
She believes the pandemic created a perfect storm for a mental crisis. “For emotional stability, children need structure, socialization and a feeling of security. The Covid-19 pandemic wiped that out. Children are stuck in isolation at home, doing distance learning, or switching between in-person and home learning so that they lack a sense of consistency. Adults are stressed and children notice it. And some children have to be out of their homes. According to the data presented at the AAP conference, the rate of child abuse tripled during stay-at-home orders.
Dr. Becker shares that childhood resilience requires at least one reliable caregiver a child can rely on, be it a parent, relative, teacher, or someone else. “But if we stress parents and then don’t allow children to leave their homes to find alternative support options, where should they find resilience?” She asks.
Increasing psychological problems certainly precede the pandemic. Pediatrician Dr. Alisa Minkin, MD, reports an increase in anxiety and depression over the past decade, particularly in her adolescent and adolescent patients. “Before the pandemic, around a third of my patients at this age had significant anxiety and / or depression. My guess is now at least 2/3. We have seen serious increases including suicidal ideation and eating disorders. The surge in eating disorders was even more noticeable in the pandemic, probably because of all the lockdowns and isolation. “
With the Covid-19 pandemic slowing down in 2022, will mental health remain a priority? Rachel Hercman, LCSW, a private practice therapist, believes the pandemic brought new mental struggles and exacerbated old ones, leading many to seek help for the first time and others to re-enter therapy. She says, “The pandemic created a level playing field where more people felt like they were admitting two difficult things out loud: ‘I’m not fine’ and ‘I need help’. ”
In early 2022, let’s capitalize on this newfound mental health awareness and look to a future of more healing.