We are now well into the pandemic’s second year. It has killed more than half a million US citizens. It’s true that there are some encouraging signs, such as the vaccination of one in four American adults at this point.
As everyone waits for things to gradually return to normal, it seems that many individuals want to continue checking up on their friends and relatives to see how they’re doing. That’s smart, since mental health professionals believe that many people are suffering these days.
If you’re in the group that has received a vaccination, you’ll be able to see many of the people soon who you have not visited during the past twelve-plus months. Once you are all fully vaccinated and able to see each other in person, you can talk about the mental and psychological strain that the past year has put on all of you. That should be a tremendous relief.
Let’s talk more about what the past year has been like for many people from a mental standpoint.
With many physical problems, medical professionals can more or less tell how bad or widespread they are. There might be a little underreporting, but they can look at hospital records and clinic data to see how common or atypical any condition is.
Look at something like TBIs, or traumatic brain injuries. Doctors think that nearly two million people in the US sustain one annually. The Center for Disease Control places that number even higher, though, possibly as high as three million.
Even with something that doctors and other medical professionals or organizations can track relatively easily, it’s hard to determine the exact number. Think how much more difficult it is to track something like anxiety or pandemic-related stress.
Some people grow up thinking that things are virtually immutable. They might see a small change and accept it, like a particular McDonald’s closing or a new barbershop opening up down the street from them.
A global pandemic is much more difficult to process mentally. Suddenly, millions of people are losing their jobs. Friends and relatives can’t see each other anymore, which takes away their major support networks.
As time passes, hundreds of thousands die, even while politicians can’t agree on how serious what is happening actually is. People receive contradictory information on how they should conduct themselves.
Some people are mad at others who have acted all along like the pandemic doesn’t exist and who have refused to wear masks or socially distance themselves. However, some of those who have neglected to take these preventative measures have not done so for political reasons.
Many people act the way that they do because they’re not able to make the mental adjustment necessary to accept what is happening all around them. It’s like someone standing on a beach and deciding to bury their head in the sand in response to the tidal wave that is bearing down on them.
The point is not what someone believes politically or how seriously they have taken Covid-19. It is that
many doctors seem to agree that millions are suffering out there because their mental health has deteriorated significantly over the past few months. What’s not clear is how many are in dire straits and how long the effects of the lengthy quarantines and all that has come with them will last.
As we mentioned earlier, there are some positive signs now that the FDA has approved three different vaccines. Vaccination efforts have increased a great deal, and that should help some people who are struggling to get through 2021 just as they did 2020.
If you’re not in the best mental shape, though, and you’re able to recognize that, try to find an outlet for what you’re feeling. It does no good to lash out at family members or colleagues at work. If you can acknowledge that you need someone to talk to, try to find a therapist or speak to your doctor.
They can talk to you about medication and stress management techniques. It’s not a weakness to seek help, especially at a time when so many other people are likely going through the same thing that you are.
What has taken place has shaken the entire world, and it’s the rare individual who will come out of this stretch precisely the same as they were before.