Author: Veronica Lichtenstein, LMHC
Jun 21, 2023
Why Covid-19’s Pandemic Has Had A Significant Impact on Mental Health World-Wide
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health worldwide because it caused heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and fear due to concerns about health risks, economic uncertainty, and social isolation. Quarantine protocols have notedly effected vulnerable populations such as the elderly, those living alone, and individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions. The pandemic has disrupted access to mental health services. Those who have been able to access them have had to wait longer. Frontline workers have been overworked, leading to high rates of burnout, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and other mental health challenges.
It’s Important To Care About One’s Mental Well-Being
It is very important to care about one’s mental health. Like any physical ailment, if it is not addressed, it can grow into bigger issues. Understanding one’s triggers and learning coping skills to deal with stressors can help in navigating through anxiety and depression. When your home is orderly, you enjoy it more because you know where everything is and you can relax in your environment. Similarly, with mental health, therapy can help you understand yourself better. When this happens, you advocate and communicate effectively, which leads to healthier relationships. Shifting the focus to prevention and early intervention in mental health can help reduce the overall costs of care. By addressing mental health concerns at an early stage, it is possible to prevent more severe conditions from developing and requiring more intensive and expensive treatment in the future.
Why Accessing Professional Help Can Be So Challenging
Many face-to-face therapy sessions and support groups were suspended or moved to remote platforms, making it challenging for individuals to receive the necessary care and support. The transition to telehealth has been helpful for some, but it may not be accessible to everyone due to technological barriers or lack of privacy. In some areas, especially rural or remote regions, there may be limited access to mental health providers. People living in these areas often face challenges in finding local professionals and may need to travel long distances to receive care. This can be particularly burdensome for individuals with limited mobility, lack of transportation, or financial constraints.
How These Problems Can Be Solved
Steps such as improving insurance coverage for mental health, increasing the number of mental health providers, expanding telehealth options, reducing stigma, and investing in mental health infrastructure can help improve access to mental health care. Insurance coverage for mental health services is often limited compared to coverage for physical health conditions. Some insurance plans may have higher deductibles, copayments, or require pre-authorization for mental health services, making it more expensive and burdensome for individuals to seek treatment. Furthermore, certain therapies or treatments may not be covered at all, leaving people to bear the full cost themselves.
There is a shortage of mental health providers in many areas, especially in rural or underserved communities. The demand for mental health services has been steadily increasing, but the supply of qualified professionals has not kept pace. This shortage leads to longer wait times for appointments and difficulties finding a provider who is accepting new patients. Addressing challenges such as insurance coverages and the overwhelming demand placed on mental health providers requires comprehensive efforts from policymakers, insurance providers, and mental health organizations.
Ways of Caring About Your Mental Health Without Breaking The Bank
Improving your mental health doesn’t always require significant financial investment. Self-care activities can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Engage in activities that you find enjoyable and rejuvenating, such as taking walks in nature, practicing mindfulness or meditation, reading, journaling, or listening to music. These activities can be done at little to no cost and provide valuable moments of relaxation and self-reflection.
Quality sleep is essential for mental well-being, as well. Establish a consistent sleep routine, create a sleep-friendly environment, and practice good sleep hygiene habits. These include avoiding screens before bed, maintaining a comfortable sleep environment, and practicing relaxation techniques to help promote restful sleep.
Building and maintaining strong social connections is vital for mental health. Seek support from friends, family, or support groups. Engage in meaningful conversations, share your feelings and experiences, and offer support to others. Connecting with others can provide emotional support, validation, and a sense of belonging, all of which contribute to improved mental well-being.
What To Expect In The Future? Will Mental Health Care Be Affordable At Some Point?
There is a growing recognition of the importance of mental health care, and policymakers are taking steps to address the issue. Legislation and reforms aimed at improving insurance coverage for mental health services, reducing barriers to access, and increasing funding for mental health programs can contribute to making care more affordable. Many countries, including the United States, have implemented parity laws that require insurance companies to provide equal coverage for mental health and physical health conditions. These laws aim to eliminate disparities in coverage and ensure that mental health care is on par with other medical services. By offering mental health services alongside physical health care, individuals can receive comprehensive care under one roof, potentially reducing costs and increasing convenience.
The rise of telehealth and digital mental health platforms has the potential to increase affordability. Online therapy services and mental health apps can offer more cost-effective options for individuals seeking mental health support. Additionally, telehealth can eliminate transportation costs and reduce the need for in-person visits, making care more accessible and affordable. Additionally, ongoing research and advancements in mental health treatments can lead to more cost-effective interventions. As new therapies, medications, and technologies are developed, there is potential for more affordable options to become available.
While progress is being made, it is important to acknowledge that achieving affordable mental health care for all remains a complex challenge. It requires a multi-faceted approach involving policymakers, insurance providers, mental health organizations, and society as a whole. Continued advocacy, investment in mental health infrastructure, and collaborative efforts are essential to make mental health care more affordable and accessible in the future.
Suggested additional reading: Relationship Between the Gut and Mental Health