It is over a year now with over 112 million cases of COVID reported globally with 2.47Million deaths. Fortunately, the have been over 63 million people who have recovered from the virus; this is a good signal. Coupled with the ongoing vaccination drive, things seem to be looking up.
But how have the pandemic and the lockdown measures affected people’s mental health? This is the big question that most governments fail to ask. There has been a huge increase in stress and depressions during this period. Most of which is caused by the fact that hundreds of thousands of people either lost their jobs or got pay cuts. Such drastic and abrupt changes in incomes have affected a huge number of people mentally.
Additionally, some people have also been affected by virtue of being dependents on those who lost their jobs. I have personally been a victim of job cuts, and I would say for a moment before I got something to do online, I was falling into depression. The sheer lack of money and ability to cater to your family needs can really plunge you into depression and eventually affecting your mental health.
All over the world, in the past year, there have been increased cases of divorce, suicide, early marriages, and unwanted pregnancies. All these are a result of the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 lockdown measures and resultant economic recessions that have impacted negatively on mental health.
Those who are worse hit are those who already had some kind of mental illness and those who were abusing substances. It was reported that 40% of Americans reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. This is up from the 10% that was reported in 2019.
The effect of the pandemic on mental health differs from one demographic group to the other. For example:
How Lockdowns are Affecting Peoples Mental HealthKids have had a number of negative pandemic-related issues like the closure of schools, and declining incomes which have led to poor mental health. During the pandemic, youths from the age of 18 – 24 reported greater than average symptoms of anxiety and depression. Over 56 percent of youth around the world are more likely to engage in drugs and suicidal thoughts. The youth are already vulnerable to mental health problems, the lockdown has just accelerated the cases.
Evidence from previous economic downturns has shown that job losses and salary cuts have led to increased anxiety, depression, distress, and low self-esteem. During the pandemic, adults have recorded higher rates of symptoms of mental illnesses in households with the case of job cuts or reduced income.
Further research during the lockdown period showed that children and their parents, especially the mothers with poor mental health are on the increase. This is brought about by the issues related to school closures and lack of proper child care. Women with children are more likely to be affected by mental health-related problems than men. Mothers have been experiencing depressing conditions, higher anxiety compared to their men counterparts.
Workers who provide essential services such as medical staff, grocery vendors, mail and package delivery workers have reported a higher rate of poor mental health. This is because they expose themselves every day to conditions that can cause them to catch the virus. This will eventually increase anxiety and depression and thus poor mental health.
It is high time that governments all over the world should consider prioritizing the treatment and management of mental health cases before they become a pandemic on their own. Proper measures should be taken to guard the population against deteriorating mental health even as the government is grappling with the vaccination plans.