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The Lesser-Known Pandemic: Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Mental Wellbeing Now


With so much focus on the COVID-19 pandemic in the last 14 months or so, it has been hard to devote much attention to some of what we might refer to as its side effects. Sure, there’s plenty of talk about how it’s affected the economy, and we’ve all had our discussions about social isolation. But the topic that really deserves more attention is the effect that the pandemic has had on our mental wellbeing, both collectively and as individuals.


Depression and Anxiety

In looking specifically at the issue of depression with regard to current events, we noted last year that nearly a third of U.S. adults had shown “clinical signs of depression and anxiety.” And there have been problems in younger demographics as well, with both children and college-aged students and young adults showing similar signs. This side issue (so to speak) has become severe enough, in fact, that some university researchers and clinical psychologists are now referring to it as a parallel pandemic.

For some, and particularly those who have never experienced true depression or anxiety before, it feels natural to attempt to shrug off these problems. You might assume that you are “just stressed out,” orthat you can essentially tough it out until things get back to normal. In the best of cases, things may well work out this way. But for those who are truly struggling with mental health and wellbeing, it’s important not to ignore the problems.

The main reason this is the case is that problems with mental health can worsen — sometimes rapidly and severely — when they aren’t properly addressed. The aforementioned professionals who have termed the mental health crisis a parallel pandemic also cited the need for a mental health “vaccination,” insofar as they believe we need to come up with a way to address the impact. The reason given for this, however, is that targeting mental health symptoms early on provides the best chance of preventing them from worsening or causing long-term effects. In other words, there is less chance of lasting trauma if you address mental wellbeing rather than ignoring it.

The other reason you should prioritize dealing with mental wellbeing is that it can actually affect your physical health as well. This will tend to resonate with more people (even though we contend that mental health is every bit as important as physical, at least), and so is important to mention. The notion that ignoring emotional issues is bad for your health does not pertain only to psychological distress or disorders. Emotional stress can also lead to headaches, insomnia, digestive problems, and heart disease — and in some cases even autoimmune disorders. The body is simply not made to run on stress or anxiety.


Where to Seek Help

Once these issues are understood, the important question becomes how to go about addressing issues with mental wellbeing. And today, all too often, the immediate solution is to turn to a mobile app. This can certainly be better than nothing, and may ultimately be well worth trying. But to truly begin to manage the issue, there are three types of people to seek help from:

Psychiatric Professionals - It may go without saying, but often the best way to seek help when you feel that you’re struggling mentally is to go directly to a medical professional trained in this sort of problem. There are different types of psychiatric healthcare workers, but exploring this field generally should expose you to some who will be equipped to help you. Sometimes, just getting in the room (or even into a remote meeting) with a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist can work wonders, leaving you with the information and resources you need to begin turning things around.

Nursing Professionals - On the subject of healthcare professionals, there are also some instances in which approaching a nursing director or manager can lead to the help you need. Of late, emerging educational opportunities helping working nurses to pursue RN-to-BSN degrees online are resulting in more professional nurses trained specifically to oversee different facilities, departments, and branches of care, even in mental health field. Thus, there are also cases in which approaching leaders in nursing departments can either result in direct assistance, or in help finding where you need to go and who you need to talk to.

Friends & Family - It’s well known that talking to family about mental health can be challenging, and the same can be true of close friends. They often don’t immediately understand, and even if they do it’s difficult for them to know what to say. For these reasons we don’t recommend relying entirely on this kind of support when handling mental wellbeing issues. However, it is still important to reach out to friends and family so that people close to you are aware of what you’re going through. Even if they aren’t always capable of providing the best help from a clinical perspective, their awareness and support are important.

Ultimately, it’s quite appropriate to think of mental health issues as representing a sort of parallel pandemic, as mentioned. And just as with the real pandemic, it’s important to address the problem. If you’ve been feeling mentally unwell, or even just somewhat off in a way you can’t quite define or describe, it may be time to seek help.










Rae Joanne Rae Joanne is a health and wellness writer. She is passionate about all things related to healthcare, and hopes to address mental health stories and lessons from the pandemic. In her free time she hikes.

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