I was on Discord with some friends the other day. It was a group of us from college, and we have this server where we typically play games on on the weekends. After being on for about an hour, one of my friends made an interesting observation: We were all using fidget toys of some kind. He was using a Rubik's Cube, another friend was playing with a kind of puzzle box, one was using a fidget spinner, and I was using a stress ball. We made plenty of jokes like living through several "end of the world" events, bad economy, major historical events, and more, but as the conversation shifted, I couldn't get the observation out of my mind. Here we were, a bunch of mid-twenties, post graduates, all fidgeting around with something. I thought a lot about the jokes that we made, and I decided to read up on some things.

The Covid-19 Pandemic Saw a 25% Increase in Anxiety and Depression Worldwide

I wish I was kidding, but I'm not surprised. The World Health Organization (WHO) put out a report on March 2nd summarizing the effect of the pandemic on the availability of mental health services. The unprecedented stress caused by social isolation, along with uncertainty surrounding jobs, healthcare, and death.

"Loneliness, fear of infection, suffering and death for oneself and for loved ones, grief after bereavement and financial worries have also been cited as stressors leading to anxiety and depression. Among health workers, exhaustion has been a major trigger for suicidal thinking," WHO

Young People and Women Are Being Hit the Hardest

The brief issued by WHO stated that the pandemic affected the mental health of young people, and that they are disproportionally at risk of suicidal and self-harming behaviors. It also indicated women have been more severely impacted than men. People with preexisting health conditions such as asthma, cancer, and heart disease were more likely to develop systems of mental disorders.

In regards to COVID-19, the brief said when people with preexisting mental disorders become infected, they are more likely to suffer hospitalization, severe illness, and death compared to those without mental disorders.

The Pandemic Led to Gaps in Service

For much of the pandemic, health services of all kinds, whether physical or mental, were disrupted and halted. Services for mental, neurological and substance use were apparently disrupted the most, reported by WHO Member States. With the lack of face-to-face care, people have sought care and support online. This has triggered an urgent need to make online support more reliable and effective.

WHO's most recent Mental Health Atlas showed that in 2020, governments worldwide only spent an average of 2% of their budgets on mental health.

"While the pandemic has generated interest in and concern for mental health, it has also revealed historical under-investment in mental health services. Countries must act urgently to ensure that mental health support is available to all."

So, What Do We Do?

That is a tough question, and there is no one right answer that applies to everyone. For me, I've been in bereavement counseling since February. I lost many loved ones in the last two years, and after the loss of my grandmother, I felt like I needed that extra support. If a loved of yours was in Hospice at the time of their death, Hospice offers free bereavement counseling to those closely effected. I'll admit, I've been apprehensive to seek care because I never thought I could afford anything. This was a great step in the door, and it has helped me out a lot. I'm also starting to work with a Mindset Coach to work on my discipline and accountability. I've also taken to reading a number of self-help books that tie in mental health, social interaction, and business skills. I've been prioritizing exercise and at least 30 minutes outside for a walk to clear my head.

If you feel that you are struggling with your mental health, are these solutions for you? Maybe. Each person's journey is different, but these are things that are working for me so far. Things have gotten better since the beginning of the pandemic where there are more online services and cheaper options.

If you or someone you know is struggling, and having suicidal thoughts and actions, we encourage you to reach out to these hotlines

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: Text "GOT5" to 741741

OASAS HOPEline (for struggles with gambling or substances): call 1-877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY

Domestic Violence: 1-800-942-6906


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