This time last year the world was seeing country after country going on lockdown, something that had not been seen in most people’s lifetime. This was a shocker to us all and the social distancing made it even harder. It was scary for me too, as I have family members that already suffer from anxiety. I was scared what this unknown new world was going to do to them. I had to focus on school, but also focus on my family to make sure their mental health did not get worse. Their in-person sessions with therapists and doctors during COVID were canceled and they had to settle for virtual visits. They felt like they were trapped and had no one to go to. This was a challenging time for them and their mental health. Their anxiety was amplified by worrying about the virus and how it is going to affect them since they cannot see a doctor or therapist face to face.
I was also in my second semester of my freshman year of college. This was already a hard time trying to figure out college life and having the unexpected change was hard. I had to pack up everything and head back home. For me, this was a challenging time because I was going from a life where I was always busy and then I was pushed back home where there was not a lot to do. During that time I have to say that I had a lot more stress put on me. Doing college all online was way different than being in person. Having to stress about this, making sure my family’s mental health did not get worse and the unknowns of the virus caused me to have trouble sleeping.
Days from January through March tend to drag every year since it is cold. In 2020 this was even worse as the drag was amplified by the COVID pandemic. As we continue to face the collateral damage the pandemic has put on us we have to realize what it is doing to us on an individual level. Throughout the COVID pandemic it has created mental health issues around the world causing an increase in stress, anxiety and depression.
After a year of this pandemic, we still are facing COVID. I decided to do college all online to be here for my family. One thing that I have learned, it has been hard to social distance and when I do finish school for the day it is hard to find things to do.
According to the World Health Organization, before the pandemic, countries were spending less than two percent of their national health budget on mental health and were struggling to meet the public needs. In this country mental health is always looked at as another sickness. In my eyes and seeing close family go through this battle it is not just an illness, but it is something that needs to have more attention and more help available.
During COVID, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from 1 in 10 adults who reported symptoms from January to June 2019.
It is concerning to see people still struggling during this time, trying to cope with the change and dealing with anxiety and depression. It will be difficult for us to see the light at the end of the tunnel when there will still be people struggling.
The National Alliance of Mental Illness is an organization dedicated to helping millions of Americans who are suffering from mental illness build a better life. NAMI believes that no matter the race or gender of the employees, volunteers and members, they will value and respect them. There are more than 600 local Affiliates and 48 State Organizations who work in the community to raise awareness and provide support and education for mental health. The education they give is based on programs that help families and individuals get support and information on mental health. They also advocate for public policies. NAMI leads with events and activities including the Mental Illness Awareness Week which is the first full week in October. The toll free NAMI Helpline also helps respond to the mental health problems especially during COVID.You can find more information at their website https://nami.org/Home. Free support and information is a life-line that helps many.
Most of us are tired of living in the pandemic and it is hard to find any enjoyment in this trying time. We have to realize that this is a difficult time for all of us and mental health is a concerning problem.
Now is the time to look out for each other by finding ways to help. This can be something you can contribute to during the pandemic. There are organizations where you can volunteer at their location or just volunteer to work at home.
Looking online for the Winchester area you can find the Concern Hotline, Inc. This is an organization that has a volunteer hotline. The volunteer offers a listening ear for crisis situations and they can work from home by phone. There is also a need for volunteers for office work and fundraising.To volunteer you can reach them at (540) 536-1630. Additional information about them can be found at https://disabilitynavigator.org/program/23570/volunteer-opportunities.
If you are someone struggling with anxiety or depression, use these links to get help because mental illness is more than a regular illness. If you are not struggling please consider volunteering at places like the ones above so you can help bring awareness to mental health. This is a trying time for all of us, especially the ones that are struggling with anxiety or depression.