Dr. Mel Tavares
Impacts of the COVID Pandemic on Mental Health
The impact of COVID pandemic on mental health has created a crisis within the pandemic. People who have had no mental health issues in the past are experiencing significant challenges. Fifty percent of adults in America report a decline in their overall mental health this past year as worry, fear, and depression have become a part of their daily life. More than seventy-five percent of employees are struggling with burn-out, the highest percentages attributed to healthcare workers, teachers, and day-care workers.
The impact of the pandemic varies person to person, but it is a safe assumption all of us have had a year like none other in our lifetime. It has taken a toll on all of us. Those who have an unwavering faith of God being in control are better able to maintain perspective day by day. Without coping mechanisms and support to help process the impacts, some are developing PTSD, others have had break-downs, and tragically the number of suicides is at an all-time high.
Complicated Grief and Mental Health Those who have lost loved ones to COVID are dealing with a more complicated grief than pre-pandemic. Because of restrictions on visitations, many family and friends were unable to visit loved ones and say good-bye during the final days and hours of a loved ones life. In many instances, funerals were not held or were held with restricted numbers, with many would-be attendees prohibited from traveling to say good=bye.
Grief can develop during intense separation that extend for long periods of time. Most families have been particularly careful about exposing older family and have not gathered in a year. Some older family members are in nursing facilities and are continuing to decline mentally and physically, causing loved ones to grieve loss although a death has not occurred.
John 11:35 says "Jesus wept." It's ok to cry as you grieve. But, we cannot stay in the place of grieving as those with no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 reminds us "We do not want you to grieve as those who have no hope." Hope is found in Christ and all of the promises given in the Bible.
Job Loss and Mental Health
While front-line workers have worked extended hours to combat the impact of the COVID pandemic, others have seen a domino effect of losing jobs in the food or entertainment industry. The challenges of trying to secure unemployment have been overwhelming for many. The inability to pay rent or mortgage payments has created housing insecurities. Limited income has created food insecurities. While some lenders have extended grace, many are still demanding payments for services rendered and goods purchased. The comfort for Christians is found in Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" God will take care of you, through providing community resources, stimulus checks, and acts of kindness bestowed upon you by others.
Isolation and Mental Health Isolation has created more of a crisis than any other factor during the COVID pandemic. The elderly or those with immune compromised systems have been isolating for a year, in most cases. While some schools have allowed the return of students, others continue with remote learning. Students are feeling the impact of isolation from classroom peers, sports team members, and playdate friends. For the believer in Christ, comfort can be found in Romans 8:28-29 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The time will come again soon, when we begin gathering with friends, but until then, remember you are not alone. Turn on worship music. Call a friend. Organize a Zoom party.
Parenting and Mental Health Mothers, in particular, are feeling the impact of COVID pandemic as many are removed from the workforce and social times. The effort of juggling their own jobs, supervising the remote learning, and being inside the four walls 24/7 with children has created pandemic overload and depression in many.
Diapers to change. Laptops to charge. Google classroom to figure out. Zoom meetings to attend. Curbside groceries to order and pick up. Meals to cook, mouths to feed, and a kitchen to clean. Bathe everyone, fall asleep, get up to the alarm and do it again. It gets wearisome, even for the most resilient. Galatians 6:9 gives a reason to push through one day at a time. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Your efforts are not in vain. The pandemic will end, and you will reap the rewards for your labor and efforts to keep your family healthy and educated.
Finally, I leave you with my life verse found in Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." We are in this pandemic together, we are going to come out on the other side of it together, and rejoice together. You are not alone!