Effects of COVID-19 on Mental Health
It is important to consider the potential impact of COVID-19 on the physical and the mental health of all members of our society. If you’re experiencing a level of distress that is difficult for you to manage, please use the information below to learn ways to take care of your mental health.
Additionally, we highlight the ways that public health crises can lead to acts of discrimination, such as the COVID-related racism and xenophobia experienced by Asians and Asian Americans, and emphasize issues of health and mental health equity connected to the intersecting identities one may hold.
Recognizing Elevated Distress About the Coronavirus
The following signs may indicate that you are experiencing increased distress:
- Worsening symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased academic performance
- Hopelessness and fear about the future
- Changes in personality such as disruptive behavior or outbursts of irritability/anger
- Difficulty sleeping
- Isolating, withdrawing, or avoiding social situations
- Fear or anxiety about being in public spaces
- Maladaptive coping, such as substance use
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, there are healthy ways to cope. See the next section for some information on managing your emotional wellness.
Coronavirus and Identity
Intersecting identities such as race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, financial resources, and more are important to consider as we navigate the short- and long-term implications of the coronavirus pandemic. Consider the information below for inclusive resources and options for support.
Challenging Discrimination & Bias During the Pandemic
In a public health crisis, acts of bias and discrimination can often be disguised as a concern for health and hygiene. Please consider the following suggestions for all of us to consider:
- The outbreak of a contagious disease spreads fear, and when we are afraid, we might not always be our best selves.
- Assess whether your actions to the coronavirus come from a place of prejudice.
- Be aware of engaging in any racist or xenophobic stereotyping, even if it is unintentional. For instance, do not assume that because someone is of Asian descent that they have the coronavirus.
- Note when you might be using accusatory language about an entire group of people:
- Stigmatizing those who are sick can affect not only their mental health but also their physical health.
- People in scapegoated groups can be more reluctant to seek out medical care when they are symptomatic.
- Be aware of using stigmatizing language, such as referring to people who are not sick as “clean,” which implies that people who are sick are “dirty.”
- Do not let fear and panic guide your actions. No amount of fear can excuse racism and other discriminatory acts.
When you’re mindful of the effects of your actions and views on the coronavirus and other public health concerns, you can help stop the spread of harmful stereotypes and other issues of xenophobia and racism.
Techniques to Manage Anxiety
- Distinguish between productive and unproductive worry
Productive worry occurs when there is a question that has an answer.
Non-productive worry is worrying about unanswerable questions.
|You are focused on a single event, not a chain reaction.
||You worry about a chain reaction of events.
|You are willing to accept imperfect solutions.
||You reject a solution because it is not a perfect solution.
|You do not use your anxiety as a guide.
||You think you should worry until you feel less anxious.
|You recognize what you can control and what you cannot control.
||You think you should worry until you control everything.
- Recognize that your concern is a valid reaction. Be present and mindful of your emotions and observe when they escalate.
- Seek accurate information from reliable sources and limit exposure to constant news updates.
- Distinguish possibility from probability. For example, it might be possible that you will get infected, but what is the probability? How likely is that to happen?
- Challenge the need for certainty.
Send a Virtual Care Package!