For the first time in my life, I’ve started seeing a therapist. My mental health had never seriously affected my day-to-day functioning before this year, even when it took a hit in 2019 after an immediate family member was diagnosed with late-stage cancer. But in 2020, the addition of COVID-19 means anxiety and hopelessness now take a starring role.
I, of course, am not alone. The pandemic’s psychological effects on the general public, essential workers and coronavirus survivors are similar to those of large-scale disasters, when depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety spike. This also happened a year after the 2003 SARS outbreak. Being quarantined contributes to adverse mental health outcomes.
Further, in the United States, the pandemic isn’t the sole contributor to the poor mental well-being of Americans. The country’s political turmoil has elicited distress in many marginalized groups. For the Black community, police brutality and the microscope on racism can negatively impact mental health.
Americans’ symptoms of deteriorating mental health haven’t improved from May to August 2020, according to a recent COVID Response Tracking Study poll from the National Opinion Research Center.
So, what will people’s mental health look like by the end of the year? What challenges will we face? Are there any positives? In honor of World Mental Health Day, we asked therapists to share their thoughts: