The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered in its wake a mental health pandemic. Levels of depression and anxiety have rocketed as a result of the virus and its impact on health, finances, social relationships and more.
Loneliness has also been a major problem, with All Things Hair finding that 58.89% of those surveyed had experienced increased feelings of loneliness as a result of working remotely. Add in the social isolation of lockdowns and home-schooling and the scale of the problem begins to become apparent.
However, the news isn’t all bad when it comes to the pandemic and mental health. Mental health awareness has certainly benefited.
Firstly, an increasing number of people have begun talking about mental health. For years, mental health campaigners have been doing all they can to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around discussing mental health issues. Yet it’s only since the pandemic that people have really felt more freedom in terms of openly discussing how they feel.
Social media – that place where we all paint the most positive picture of our lives – has increasingly become a platform where people are prepared to share their mental struggles. The result? An influx of support from their connections and in some cases from total strangers. We have collectively learned that it is okay to not be okay.
The connection between self-care and positive mental health has also been discussed more broadly during the pandemic. The importance of taking time out for self-care (whatever that means for you personally) has never been better understood or appreciated. Caring for yourself is an important activity that we all need to undertake.
The pandemic has also opened up conversations around mental health in the workplace. With entire staff teams being forced to work remotely, issues of loneliness, anxiety and social isolation have come to the fore. Many employers have truly grasped for the first time the scale of their obligations to their employees in terms of supporting positive mental health.
Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has made more people aware of the value of reaching out to others and checking in on others. A few words of kindness to show that you care have never been more appreciated or more powerful.
In addition, there has been a valuable lesson in the importance of never making assumptions when it comes to who we think may (or may not) be susceptible to mental health issues.
We still have a long way to go. Many people are still cautious about raising matters regarding their own mental health, particularly in the workplace. We are not yet where we need to be in terms of discussing mental health openly.
However, the pandemic has certainly moved us closer to that point in terms of opening up discussions around mental health.
Not everybody wishes to share their mental health struggles, just as people may prefer not to discuss any physical health issues from which they’re suffering. Yet at least now those who do wish to speak out can feel more confident in doing so.