It’s no secret that we weren’t prepared for a widespread pandemic, but using lockdowns as a response has produced its own set of consequences. Forcing single individuals and families to remain confined in their homes has increased the severity of mental health issues that previously existed. For many, being denied social activities, religious celebrations, and in-person therapy sessions has increased feelings of anxiety and depression. It’s not surprising to find that the worsening of mental health conditions has also increased the number of suicides and attempted suicides.
Through the World Health Organization, the United Nations has stressed the importance of providing better mental health services throughout the rest of the Covid-19 crisis. Since locking down now will lead to more severe financial hardships later, WHO predicts that suicide and attempted suicide rates have not yet started to peak. They expect this to be a growing problem that will peak in later months even after people have started to resume their normal routines.
Combining financial problems with social isolation and reduced access to religious celebrations has left people feeling more despondent than usual. The uncertainty created by the situation has contributed to depressive episodes as well. People wondering how much longer they can depend on unemployment checks and when evictions will be allowed to resume leave people living in a constant state of fear. This, in itself, is enough to negatively impact mental health.
A recent study found that thoughts about suicide are alarmingly high. In the study, researchers found that 25% of young adults had thought about committing suicide, while 30.9% of the 5,412 subjects polled said they had experienced episodes of depression or anxiety. Additionally, 13% of subjects reported using drugs or alcohol to boost mood, or treat depressive episodes.
The problem we’re all facing is that these topics make people uncomfortable, and no one likes to talk about feelings of depression and anxiety. Even when mental health help is available, people are afraid to admit there’s something wrong so they won’t seek out that help. Until we begin to remove the stigma that surrounds mental illness, there isn’t much we can do to connect treatment options with those in need. This starts with talking to your loved ones about your feelings and encouraging them to open up to you. An increased dialogue will make it easier to seek help, so fewer people will turn to suicide as a solution to their problems.