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The past year has taken a toll on the nation’s mental health. The country already had rising rates of anxiety and depression, but the pandemic only added to them. Stress is at all time highs, and many people are grieving the loss of loved ones to COVID-19.
As a country we face mental health challenges as we move through, and beyond, the effects of the virus. It will surely take some time to become stable again. Meanwhile, we should be aware of the most common mental health issues we face today.
What Are the Top 6 Mental Health Challenges Today?
Here are the most common mental health issues at this time:
Anxiety remains the number one mental health challenge in the nation. Because of the added burden of Covid, people are more anxious than ever before. Much of this is due to the unknown aspects of the virus, which causes feelings of fear and distress. People just don’t know if they might get lucky and have no symptoms or if they will get very sick. All the other fallout caused by the virus, such as schools being closed, only adds to the anxiety.
People’s lives have been in upheaval for a year now. Careers have been lost, plans have been shelved, and illness has been rampant. With all the problems caused by the virus many have become very depressed. Life has been turned upside down. Relationships have been stressed, only causing more conflict. Rates of depression have climbed in all age groups, and suicides are on the rise.
So much of the impact of the virus on our mental health centers on feeling lonely. For the past year we have been forced to keep our distance from friends and family members. We have had to forgo our holiday celebrations and other milestones, and it all leads to feelings of isolation. People truly are social creatures at heart and all this loneliness has been very hard on mental health this year.
4. Financial Stress.
Along with the safety measures imposed by state and local leaders came job losses in the millions. What was thought to be a short-lived problem has lasted for many months, causing hardship. Money problems are one of the most stressful things in people’s lives. Small businesses have had to close, taking with the closures people’s life savings.
5. Grief and Loss.
At this point in time, we have lost about half a million people here in the US to COVID-19. It is truly tragic what has happened to so many families. They have had to lose a loved one, often without even getting to say goodbye. The effects of grieving the loss of a loved one are profound, and hard to predict. Sadly, grief and loss will be with us at these rates for a while longer.
6. Substance Abuse.
Along with the emotional toll of the pandemic came an increase in substance abuse. People often turn to alcohol or drugs to help them cope with stress or depression. An unhealthy mode of coping through the use of a substance can then lead to a substance use disorder. This only compounds the mental health struggles.
How to Protect Mental Health in 2021
With all this strife, surely there are things we can do to protect our mental health. It is true, that with some lifestyle tweaks we can protect against much of the negative effects of the virus. Consider these ways to bolster our mental wellness:
- Work Out. If there is one thing you can add to your routine to improve mental health and overall wellness it is exercise. This can be tailored to your own interests and strengths, and should be fun. Consider adding cycling, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, dance cardio, running, or just a brisk daily walk. Anything that gets your heart pumping for 20-30 minutes 3 times a week is good for your mental health.
- Learn to Relax. There is no doubt that stress levels have been high and we all need to learn better ways to relax. High stress levels cause a burden on our hearts, can cause sleep disruption, and even weight gain. Try adding some form of stress-reduction action to your daily routine. Take an online yoga class, learn how to meditate, listen to soothing music, or practice deep breathing. There are online cooking classes and art therapy sessions that can also help you relax. Get creative to find ways to reduce stress in your life.
- Eat Better. One thing most of us are guilty of during the pandemic is eating more comfort foods. This isn’t good because our diet can have an affect on our mental health. Best to aim for a diet that is rich in lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds. Add plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and drink lots of water. Limit sweets and processed foods for optimal health.
When to Seek Treatment
If the lifestyle changes do not seem to improve mental health, then it’s time to see a mental health provider. These experts can provide support and therapy, and sometimes medications as well. There are different types of mental health treatment to consider: If in person sessions are not available
- Telemental Health. If in-person sessions are not available you can receive psychotherapy via a digital platform such as Zoom.
- Outpatient Programs. Outpatient treatment is structured based on the level of care needed to treat the mental health issue.
- Residential Treatment. When a more intensive level of comprehensive treatment is needed, the residential treatment center for depression and anxiety option allows for a longer treatment window.
Taking care of our mental health this year needs to be a top priority. Get the help you need as early as possible for the best recovery outcomes.
Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Residential Mental Health Treatment
Elevation Behavioral Health offers a small, intimate residential setting for healing. With a caring team of mental health professionals, our focus is on customized treatment. Our team partners with you to support your journey back to wellness. If you are struggling with a mental health issue, give us a call today at (888) 561-0868.