Mental health took a huge blow in 2020, the pandemic has thrown many of us into situations we could never have prepared for almost overnight and no one would be blamed for struggling with their mental health at this time.
But with the world seeing a ‘new normal’, mental health aid isn’t what it was previously to the pandemic, due to social distancing laws and safety issues, many therapists have had to halt their sessions for the time being. Recent online therapy research has revealed just how the public have been overcoming these hurdles.
Why Has Mental Health Been Hit So Hard?
Firstly, we are all living through a time where if we are not worried about our own physical health, we are concerned about our loved ones. Elderly relatives or vulnerable friends, everyone knows someone who is at adverse risk from COVID-19. This is made harder with the prevention of being able to see and hug those we are worried about.
Secondly, and quite possibly the most prominent issue is that of money. Record numbers of redundancies were seen in 2020 and even those who managed to keep their roles often stated that job security was always on their mind. Money problems will always lead to mental health issues as a lack of income can lead to major problems.
Thirdly, social isolation had hit us all. Having to remain in households or support bubbles is all for the greater good, but it leaves many of us lacking the social time we need as humans to be able to look after our mental health. There are only so many Zoom calls we can do and we all know it’s not the same as being able to go for a drink with friends or have dinner at your parents’ house. Did you know that loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day?
However, these studies were conducted before the pandemic, so who knows how bad it could be for those who can’t even have a friendly conversation with colleagues or with a stranger in the park!
Businesses must also play their part in looking after their employees’ mental health. Not being able to attend the office and interact in person with colleagues can be problematic for some people because they really miss the human interaction connected with direct ‘office banter’ and the ability to speak to someone.
Therefore, organisations must do what they can and identify fun solutions to enhance office morale and productivity during these troubling times. With technology at their disposal, companies can implement fun activities to keep everyone’s spirits alive.
Lastly, although we now have a vaccine, there is still no clear end date of when we can return to ‘normal’. The feeling of being out of control and not having an end in sight is unnatural to us and understandably leads to stress and anxiety in large numbers of the population.
How Have People Been Coping?
While the best way to deal with mental health issues is to see a trained professional, such as a therapist or mental health counsellor, it isn’t always a viable option.
These professionals cost money and many people have lost their income during this time and are having to focus on essentials like mortgage payments and groceries. Alongside this, with schools closed, many parents are pushed more than ever while they have to work from home and care for their children at the same time.
And of course, there is the problem of many practices being shut down with travel bans set in place, the public is unable to travel far to find a professional who can help them.
Mental Health Apps
Mental health apps have seen a surge in use since the announcement of the pandemic and have peaked in interest during major events in 2020. These haven’t exclusively been COVID-19 related.
The death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests saw increasing users, teamed with a very interesting political year, it’s no wonder the public have reached out for help in whatever way they can.
To put this in perspective, searches for mental health apps have increased by 100x in 2020, compared to the previous year. What is deemed as the most ‘depressing’ day, ‘Blue Monday’ in January did see a spike in users in 2020, but this was nothing compared to the rise in users from March onwards.
Headspace, one of the most popular mental health apps, saw an increase of 101% in user reviews from March 2020 to July 2020.
While these apps should never be considered a replacement for therapy, they are providing an essential short-term solution to many. Even just being provided with a sense of routine by using this app is helping increase mental health in many, while they can also teach mindfulness and ways to try and retrain your mind to be able to push through these times.
The most important thing to remember is there are apps out there that work for some people and not for others. Take your time to read reviews and do research before investing in one of these and don’t be afraid to reach out for more help if needed.