California’s Mental Health Crisis During the Coronavirus Pandemic
One moment, Californians went from cruising down the coast highway to losing their jobs, education, and other aspects of their lives as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The government issuing the country to stay in their homes and practice social distancing can take a toll on our mental health. California is currently taking active steps in ensuring its residents can get through this uncertain time with a clear head on their shoulders.
Spikes in Mental Illness During the Pandemic
It is hard to adjust to the sudden loss of control over everything. We do not have answers as to when we can go back to school or our jobs. You wonder if the worst is yet to come. For weeks, Californians have been cooped up in their homes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises not to overwhelm yourself with too much news surrounding the coronavirus.
It is best to take breaks when listening, watching, or reading the news on the subject. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, and get plenty of exercise and sleep. Avoid mood-altering drugs, and fill your day with relaxation techniques. It is also important to keep in touch with your loved ones through phone or video chat as well as being honest with them about how you are feeling.
Worries on Top of Worries
Because there are no answers as to what is to come next in the pandemic, more people are thinking up reasons to be worried about the future. They could be thinking about the possibility of losing their job, paying their rent or mortgage, or if their 401(k) will recover.
With all of these worries, this can mean there are higher rates of depression, anxiety, and increased trauma symptoms for those already suffering. A psychiatric nurse practitioner, 70-year-old Mary Anne Starkes, said that she has had to increase the doses of medication for those with a mental illness during the past two weeks more than ever in her career.
The Mental Strain on Adult Care Centers
In L.A. County, there are 3,200 licensed board and care homes. They are homes to thousands of elderly people and those living with severe mental illness. People with severe mental illness are used to going to their therapy sessions and group activities. Now with this ongoing pandemic, many adult day programs have stopped these in-person meetings.
Social distancing means these adults have to stay in their homes 24 hours a day. While these homes offer check-ins and group sessions over the phone, not being able to get that human contact can put a strain on those already dealing with poor mental health.
While it has been largely preferred or recommended to have in-person appointments with your therapists, it is currently not an option during this time. Fortunately, there are a lot of counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists that are taking their practices online. They are helping people navigate depression, anxiety, panic, and other mental illnesses that come with living in isolation.
Everything normal in these patients’ lives has changed with the new norm being the importance of social distancing for the good of your health. Therapists can help you find coping mechanisms and suggestions on how to remain close with your loved ones despite being so far apart.
What to Do When Feeling Stressed or Anxious
It is important to admit when you are feeling lousy while in isolation, as well as other symptoms you may be experiencing. Remember that the feelings of sadness, trauma, anxiety, depression, grief, or loss, are feelings that millions of people are having right now. You are not alone in how you feel. While it is important to acknowledge those feelings, you must not allow them to control you.
You can take control of your end by washing your hands as often as you can, not touching your face, bringing sanitizing wipes with you when you go to the grocery store, and practicing social distancing. That is all you can do. Do not let these thoughts grow catastrophic. Speak to someone about them.
You can better manage these emotions by practicing mindfulness, taking deep breaths, and meditating. There are a lot of apps and podcasts that can help you learn more about guided meditation, yoga, or how to take calming breaths. Listen to the sound of the ocean if you live near one or take a walk to breathe in your surroundings.
Absorb the Reality of the Situation
Remember that what we are dealing with right now is temporary and the world will go back to normal soon. Think about all of the catastrophes the world has gone through and overcome. Acknowledge that the worst-case scenario in your head will most likely not happen. Accept that the good and the bad are going to come just like anything else.
Keep in mind that we have talented doctors, scientists, and other healthcare workers working hard right now to protect our health. They are working hard to figure out ways to slow down the virus and find a cure for it. Just because we do not have a cure now does not mean we never will. Californians and other human beings may not be able to control the pandemic, but they will always have control over their mental health.
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