The Impact of COVID-19: The Challenges and Growth
Written By: Dr. Hillary Gorin, PhD
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives, including our mental health. Many individuals, especially healthcare workers, first responders, and patients hospitalized with COVID-19, have been traumatized throughout this pandemic. With increased uncertainty and the omnipresent threat of COVID-19, many individuals have felt overall more anxious about their life, health, future, and world. We have seen a national rise in substance use, depression, relationship difficulties, and school challenges (Horigian et al., 2020). We are grieving the loss of over half a million Americans. We are processing the loss of our social freedoms and the immense impact of isolation.
It seems nearly every individual around the nation and world has been impacted by this pandemic in some way. Many of us have faced new challenges and struggled with difficult questions, such as how we will see our loved ones safely and how we will cope with the political divide this pandemic has highlighted. Many of us have considered how this pandemic will impact our jobs, our ability to feed our families, and even, our ability to get essential products, such as toilet paper. We have been forced to ask ourselves what we value and how we will view our commitment to keeping others safe, even at the expense of our own happiness. As a result, our values, worldviews, and thinking patterns have shifted, our relationships have been strained, and our happiness has been secondary. At many points throughout this pandemic, many of us have likely felt as if life will never be the same.
While it may be true that aspects of our lives and world will be permanently changed because of this pandemic, I believe that we, individually, can come out of this stronger. I believe that we will find ways to grow from the challenges and tragedy we have faced. This pandemic has not only highlighted our weaknesses as humans, but also our strengths. It has helped me to recognize and value my willingness to make sacrifices in my life for the safety of others. This pandemic has taught all of us that life and health should not be taken for granted. It has shown us the power of science. It has shown us the power of collective action and just how interconnected we are in the world.
Despite the lessons we have learned, the impact of this pandemic will likely extend beyond a vaccinated nation or herd immunity. We will need to remember that we are not invincible and that our body and minds need to be cared for. We will need to continue working together with a shared goal of health and growth. We will need to work to heal and manage the problems this pandemic has created or exacerbated in our lives. The next opportunity for growth is to self-reflect and to recognize when to seek help from others and when to encourage others to do the same. If we all yearn to become our healthiest selves now, the impact of this pandemic can lessen.
Mental health professionals at Oakheart and around the nation are working hard to consider ways to help our patients with managing the following challenges and the impact that COVID-19 has had on them:
Trauma: We are here to help you process and recover from your traumatic experiences so that the past does not continue impacting the present.
Anxiety: We are here to help you learn strategies for managing and overcoming your anxiety and to help you safely return to aspects of your life.
Grief/ bereavement: We are here to help you process the loss and devastation you have experienced. We are here to assist you in honoring those you have lost while moving forward in your life.
Substance Use: If you have turned to substance use to manage stress or isolation, we are here to help you reduce or eliminate use and to find alternative coping strategies.
Childhood/ Adolescent Difficulties: From increased behavioral problems and suicidal thinking in adolescents, to the impact of limited peer interaction and school difficulties, our providers can help your child or teen get back on track and reconnect to their world safely.
Depression: We can help you find creative ways to return to activities you used to enjoy via a technique called behavior activation. In addition, we can help you challenge your negative thoughts and find hope for the future again.
Bipolar Disorder: Maintaining schedule, routine, and medication regimen greatly reduce manic and depressive episodes. We are here to assist you in optimizing your routines, despite the challenges and changes this pandemic has created in your schedule and life.
ADHD: Sitting still during video calls can certainly exacerbate attention deficits. We are here to help you develop attention and organization strategies so that you can create schedules and structures that keep you on task.
Eating Disorders: With limited time spent outside of the home, disordered eating can become harder to challenge. We are here to help you modify your thoughts and behavior related to unhealthy eating patterns.
Domestic Violence: Being with an abusive partner during this pandemic has created a significant increase in safety challenges and corresponding hopelessness. We can assist with navigating these challenges, despite limitations you are facing.
Anger Management: With life stressors all around, frustration, irritability, and anger have increased throughout daily experiences. We can assist with emotion regulation strategies to monitor and manage your anger outbursts.
At OakHeart, we are proud to provide evidence-based treatment with adaptations necessary for the COVID-19 pandemic. Ask for help. We are here with you throughout these unprecedented times. To schedule an appointment, please call 630-570-0050.
Horigian, V. E., Schmidt, R. D., & Feaster, D. J. (2021). Loneliness, mental health, and substance use among US young adults during covid-19. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 53(1), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2020.1836435
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