Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have seen a significant increase in mental health symptoms across all ages, genders and other demographics. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that “Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.” According to the Mental Health America review of data collected from their online screening tools from January through September 2020,
Anxiety screenings were up by 634% from January and depression screens were up 873%. Rates of suicidal ideation were highest among youth, especially LGBTQ+ youth.
In September 2020, over half of 11-17-year-olds reported having thoughts of suicide or self-harm more than half or nearly every day of the previous two weeks.
Between April and Sept., 70% of people reported that loneliness or isolation was the top contributing factor to mental health issues, followed by past trauma (46.1%) and relationship problems (42%).
Now more than ever we need to learn how to help ourselves and those around us that are suffering from an increase in anxiety and depression. Here is a short list of things you can do for yourself or to help someone else ease some of the symptoms:
Stay connected to others: Even if you are unable to meet in-person make sure to stay connected to others through consistent video chat (Facetime, Zoom, Microsoft Meeting, Skype), texts, phone calls or even socially distanced meet-ups.
Get outside: It is important for your mental health to get outside. A walk, hike, bike ride or other physical activity for 30 minutes each day will have a positive impact on your overall mood and emotions. Research also shows that exposure to sunlight daily will decrease depression symptoms and increase our overall mental health.
Think happy thoughts: Yes! Your read that correctly. When we are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed we need to check our thoughts and replace them with positive self-talk. The more positive things that we tell ourselves the more positive things we will see in the world around us.
Get off your screens: Try to decrease the amount of screen time that you are exposed to each day (TV, tablet, computer, phone, video games). If you must be on a screen for extended periods of time then take a break every 30 minutes. Get up, walk around, get outside. Your brain and body need these breaks to maintain your overall health.
Ask for help: Over the last year, we have all experienced increased isolation and a significant decrease in spending time and doing life with others. Because of this, we fall into the trap of trying to cope with everything on our own. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental health symptoms you need to reach out for help from others. You can and should receive help for what you are going through. If you are in the State of California feel free to contact us at Elevate Mental Health or look in your area for a psychologist, therapist or counselor to help you.