The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant shifts in healthcare from both a medical and business perspective. It has also increased public awareness regarding the importance of healthcare and quick and convenient access to healthcare services. However, when looking at all the changes triggered by COVID-19, one of the most noteworthy findings is that it has brought valuable improvements in the realm of mental health.
Here are three crucial ways the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is changing the mental health field.
1An Increase in Mental Health Awareness
In the last few decades, a lot of effort was directed at increasing mental health awareness. But the stigma around mental health illnesses has never been fully overcome. Because it has taken all of us out of our comfort zone, COVID-19 is changing the public perception of various mental health conditions. People seem to show more empathy towards those suffering from depression, anxiety, attention disorders, or ADHD. The reason might be that it has become clearer how much our lives can be affected by circumstances outside of our control.
Another key aspect is that lockdowns, social distancing, and the work-from-home phenomenon have led to an increase in anxiety, isolation, loneliness, stress, and addictive behavior. As a result, people who’ve never considered the importance of mental health are forced now to make mental health a top priority. It’s safe to assume that there is going to be a lot more talk about mental health in the upcoming months and years.
2The Rise of Telehealth
Even before the emergence of the novel coronavirus, receiving healthcare from home was vital for many patients. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically accelerated the growth of online healthcare services. Telehealth is now an essential part of healthcare. And it can fulfill many of the fundamental needs that drove patients to clinics and hospitals before the pandemic.
When talking about the ways the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the mental health field, it’s crucial to bring into discussion online psychiatry. People who don’t like the idea of talking about personal issues in a clinical setting have the opportunity now to speak with a mental health professional from the comfort of their homes. There’s no traveling time, no risk of COVID-19 exposure, and the costs can be more attractive too.
3Closer Social Relationships
Paradoxically, social distancing has led many people to put a lot more attention into their relationships. There’s never been a more stringent need to feel connected and spend quality time with friends and family members, even if only via online platforms. This emphasis on connection, relationships, and support groups is very beneficial for the mental health field. In many ways, closer social relationships make the work of mental health professionals easier. People who have a strong social support group face mental illness easier and are more open to treatment. They also spread awareness about their condition in their circles.
The mental health field has always suffered from poor or negative public perception, but the COVID-19 pandemic is changing this quickly. It’s going to be interesting to watch how things will unfold further.