Between stress caused by fear of contracting — or spreading — COVID-19, the impacts of the disease on one’s mental health are far-reaching.
According to a study done by Pew Research, 42% of Americans feel lonely every one or two days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 48% feel depressed just as often.
Sophomore construction management major Joe Patridge of Alton, Illinois, said one of the biggest worries he’s had isn’t for himself, but for his grandparents, because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults are at higher risk for COVID-19.
“[The pandemic] hasn’t been a huge detriment to me, but I've definitely felt it,” Patridge said. “Not being able to go places or see people has definitely affected me, and it probably has affected most people. I’m mostly worried for my grandparents because they like going out. My family has offered to go to the store for them, but they insist on going out on their own. I know that since I’m younger, I most likely wouldn’t die from the virus, so it does comfort me to know that even If I get it I’ll be okay, but that is obviously biased. If I was older, I would have a different opinion.”
Freshman English major Kendra Mackey, of Columbia, Missouri said she has her own struggle with the pandemic, specifically when she has to leave the house.
“The biggest thing that’s affected me is that pharmacies are not working the same way at all,” Mackey said. “It’s the same with doctors and therapists. They’re all worried about corona patients, so there’s all sorts of precautions being taken. But it's a lot harder for me to get my anti- depressants now.”
Mackey said she also had to travel because of her familial situation. She said there is a Dover lining to some of it, but she has still felt the struggles of the pandemic.
“My parents are split up, so I do get a slight change of scenery once in a while, but with my schoolwork, I’m still just sitting abound working on stuff constantly,” Mackey said. “I can’t go do anything other than sit and look at my laptop. There’s no going out with friends, or working out at the gym. It all feels fake. I know it's real and people are dying, but it still feels like any moment, someone will jump out and say, ‘Gotcha!’”
When the pandemic has finally passed, Mackey said she expects the world’s view of mental health to change greatly, and maybe more people will seek the help they need.
“I think a lot of people are finding out about themselves,” Mackey said. "They feel isolated and alone. If you have undiagnosed mental health issues, usually you’re around people and you can distract yourself. With no one leaving their houses, people will realize they should go get help.”
After the pandemic, freshman accounting major Miller Wiseman from Alton, Illinois, said he expects people to have diverse reactions to what has happened.
“I think for some people the struggles this causes will be short term, but for everyone, once we’re back, it will probably take a long time to get back to normal,” Wiseman said. “Like, I haven’t been diagnosed with any mental illness before, though I have always been a little bit anxious. But everytime the government extends the stay-at-home order, I definitely start to feel a little overwhelmed.”
Wiseman said that the COVID-19 pandemic will increase people’s dependence on social media for validation.
“I feel like a lot of people are really focused on social media or other people for validation, and if people aren't able to get that from classmates and friends, it might result in them thinking less of themselves,” Wiseman said.
There are other ways to adapt to the pandemic than just using social media. Patridge said a good way to de-stress is to look at the facts, and not just exaggerated news.
“This is definitely a serious situation, but it feels like it’s being blown out of proportion,” Patridge said. “I’m going to stay inside and follow the guidelines, but I don’t know anyone who has it. As for information, there’s a YouTube channel called The Infographic Show, and they’ve done a bunch of videos on [the pandemic], and I feel like getting correct and reasonable information is more helpful than just looking at how many people have died from the virus. There are actually more people who recover from it than die from it.”
If you feel as though you may be suffering from severe mental health issues, it can never hurt to see a therapist and discuss your mental health. The CDC recommends taking breaks from the news, taking care of your body, making time to unwind and connecting with others.