The pandemic has put us through many arduous endeavours. At first working from home was kind of fun, but as the months went by, lasting longer than expected and hoped for, we are getting quite tired of it. This pales in comparison to those who grieve and those we have lost. But no matter what has happened to you, the pandemic has affected your mental and physical health in some sort of fashion, harsh or less harsh. And we are all beginning to feel the toll it has been handing out.
According to ABC News, “In surveys conducted prior to the pandemic, 9% of respondents reported depressive symptoms, researchers found. Once the pandemic hit, that percentage jumped to 28% of respondents, according to new survey data.” Thus, depression has more than tripled since the start of the pandemic. This may not be all that surprising, but it is crucial to the shift we as a species hope to make.
Before the pandemic, mental health was not much more than an afterthought for most people, despite its looming and growing shadow. Some people had illnesses and symptoms while most had none at all. Depression was a once in awhile feeling that came and went based on external stimuli. However, with the increase in mental health issues, a lot of people, dare say all people, are more aware of the effects a mental health illness/issue can have on somebody. And since we all have been experiencing, whether directly or indirectly, the effects of poor mental health and mental health-related issues, the discussion has grown in popularity.
However, like was said before, this is not a new problem. People were experiencing the nuances of mental health issues way before the pandemic broke out and will continue feeling the sting long after the pandemic is over. What’s important, and something we dare not lose sight of, is how real mental health is. How much of a problem it creates for people and how we can go about solving it.
For people experiencing mental health issues relating to the pandemic, welcome to the world of someone who has a mental illness. This is what they feel every day, despite what happens externally and sometimes despite what they do. This is not new. This is real. This is a medical illness. The COVID pandemic has released mental health into the world for all to see and experience.
Let’s not lose this chance to see things for what they are. Let’s not lose this chance to educate ourselves on a very real problem with real solutions. Now that everyone has been able to somewhat understand what it feels like, perhaps we can all get on the same page, stop being afraid to talk about it, and start treating it like it’s been there all this time, because it has.