The COVID-19 virus has had a major effect on how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis. Millions of Americans have been put out of work due to the pandemic. While some are on furlough until their places of work are able to fully open again, many others have been permanently laid off. Many that have been able to keep their jobs now work from home, which means that they aren’t interacting with their coworkers or people in general as much as they once did. As a lot of people gained much of their social interactions through work, this has been a major change. In general, we simply can’t interact with other people as much as we once did. Making new friends is difficult, as is staying in touch with old ones. In contrast, we’re all spending a lot more time with our families and housemates. If you have children, chances are high that they are in virtual school at least part of the time, if not all of the time. Another big issue that Americans are facing is the fact that they can’t go out and do what they normally would. Eating out is debatable, and if you are able to do it you probably can’t do it impetuously. We’re all more conscious of our precarious our jobs are, which has us being more careful and worried about our money. And for that matter, going to spend time at theme parks or traveling at all is really off the table for many, not only due to financial problems but safety concerns as well. Ultimately, all of this has led to the realization that COVID-19 is not only a public health crisis but a mental health issue as well.
It’s not enough, however, to recognize that COVID-19 is a mental health issue. The fact is that a lot of people don’t take their mental health as seriously as their physical health. While it’s true that the physical health issues associated with the coronavirus must be taken seriously, we can’t ignore the mental health problems associated with it just because they’re less overt to the naked eye. It’s tempting to try to “power through” the mental health problems occurring because of COVID-19. But that will not help you in the long term, because mental health problems simply can’t be powered through permanently. With that being said, let’s look into some of the things you can do to treat the mental health problems that come with COVID-19, while at the same time being conscious of the limitations caused by the virus.
1. Consult With A Psychiatrist
Whenever you’re dealing with a mental health issue, you should at least consider working with a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a doctor, just like your primary care physician is a doctor. They simply specialize in treating mental illnesses, rather than physical illnesses; though of course, it is important to note that mental illnesses can have physical symptoms at times, which a psychiatrist is an important part of treating as well. A psychiatrist is qualified to diagnose mental illnesses, from more common issues like General Anxiety Disorder to more complex illnesses like schizophrenia. No problem is too minor for you to consult with a psychiatrist. A lot of people find themselves embarrassed about the idea of working with a psychiatrist, but it’s really important; so much so that a lot of psychiatrists offer virtual appointments to better work with patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, psychiatrists specialize in a number of different issues, and you can potentially have your appointments covered through medicare coverage.
Now, it’s important to note that though not all people need medication to help treat a mental health issue, psychiatrists can prescribe medication. While some currently get their prescriptions for medications that treat psychiatric conditions through their primary care physicians, this is far from ideal. A primary care physician may know more about mental health problems than you do, but that is not their specialty, and they can’t diagnose you with a serious mental health condition. A psychiatrist is much better equipped to prescribe medications for mental illnesses. Furthermore, they can monitor your medications and make sure that you aren’t overmedicating or taking medications that might interact poorly with one another. You should consult with your psychiatrist before taking any alternative treatments that might affect your mental health or interact with your medications, like CBD wellness products. Though these products may be fine for you take, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry!
2. Work With A Therapist
Wait, we already talked about working with a psychiatrist, right? Contrary to popular belief, a psychiatrist is not the same thing as a therapist. A psychiatrist’s job is to diagnose and treat mental illnesses, primarily through medication or referrals for other, more in-depth treatments. A therapist cannot prescribe medication, but they can talk to you about a mental health issue that you may be experiencing, and help you develop the coping skills that you need to work through your problems and move into a healthier lifestyle. Therapists, like psychiatrists, work within a wide variety of different specialties. For example, some therapists act much like life coaches and can help you figure out your future. Other therapists can help you go through past traumas and attempt to heal. While there is no guarantee that a therapist can help you with your problems, it’s important for you to consider trying this if you’re struggling with your mental health through COVID-19. Like psychiatrists, most therapists now offer virtual appointments, and in fact did so before the pandemic.
Of course, individual therapy is rather popular. But a therapist can also help you work through any issues that you have with your partner or your family in general. For example, you should consider going to couples’ therapy even if you aren’t initially having issues with your partner during the pandemic. If you and your partner live together, you’re now being forced to spend more time together than you usually would; and while this may initially be great, you’ll probably find that the two of you are having more conflict after a while, as well as issues regarding how you handle the pandemic together. A problem with your relationship could be attributed to a mental health issue that the two of you are struggling with together without admitting it, and couples mediation could help you work through your relationship. It’s also simply a good idea to check in with each other on a regular basis. Certainly, working with a therapist to make sure that you don’t end up talking to a divorce lawyer down the road is worth it in the long term.
3. Check In On Your Substance Usage
The more time we spend indoors, the more likely we are to overindulge in addictive substances. This can be remarkably difficult to be honest with yourself about, especially if you live on your own. Furthermore, there is a great deal of shame associated with addiction, and a lot of have issues with admitting that we have a problem because of the stigma. Firstly, it’s important for you to remember that addiction is a mental health issue like any other. It’s a disease and something that you shouldn’t feel ashamed of, however natural that feeling may seem to be. For that matter, you need to remember that though rehab facilities are available for those with severe addiction issues, you can still struggle with lesser addiction problems that aren’t interfering with your life yet but could in the future. You can ultimately get help from psychiatrists and therapists, as well as support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, among others. We don’t have to wait for our loved ones to make substance abuse interventions to realize that we have a problem. With honesty and hard work, we can intervene with ourselves, while also seeking help.
Something to consider when checking in with yourself, of course, is cutting down on the substances that you’re abusing slowly or altogether, depending on how you are advised to proceed by experts. Not all substance abuse issues begin in the same way. Many people who used to drink alcohol without addiction issues are currently struggling with addiction due to the fact that many have been using alcohol to self-medicate. A major issue that people also have problems with in this day and age are opioids. This is because opioids are often prescribed to treat chronic pain or injuries on a temporary basis, but then become addictive. Patients, therefore, seek illegal opioids once they’re no longer allowed to refill their legal prescriptions. Fortunately, there are both alcohol and opioid treatments available. However, many are also dealing with substance abuse issues that are more obscure. Food addiction is also a substance abuse problem and something that countless Americans struggle with. Don’t feel as if your problems are not valid. Again, addiction is a mental health issue, and you need to take them seriously. Just because your problems involve addiction doesn’t mean that you have to hide them; in fact, it means the opposite.
4. Consult With Financial Experts
Right now, especially if you’re struggling with a mental health issue, you probably are stressed about the idea of thinking about your money. But it’s important to stay proactive about protecting your finances and saving as much money as possible. Some Americans may need to live off of their savings for a while as they look for work, and this can be remarkably difficult, especially if you’re struggling with debt issues. Fortunately, there are financial experts in a wide variety of different fields that can help you. While it can be stressful to consider in the beginning, ensuring that your money is taken care of and that you are financially set up for the future is good for you as a mental health level. It gives you reassurance and the confidence that you need to move forward. At first, you may be concerned about paying a financial consultant, but the fact is that you do not need to pay that much for these services. For example, fee-only financial advisors only make money off of the fees their clients pay. Therefore, if you’re consulting with a financial adviser for investment management services, you may pay just 1% of the value of your total assets. You should work with a qualified fiduciary as well, as they are obligated to act in their clients’ best interests. A fiduciary would be a good person to ask as you’re planning your future after seeking debt help, as they can help you plan out how to avoid debts in the future.
One of the most important things you need to do if you want to be financially prepared for the future is retirement planning. As you won’t be working during your retirement, you need to have money to live off, along with your social security benefits. You may very well still need to pay off your mortgage after you retire, and this is something that you need to remain abreast of as you put away money for the future. Keep this in mind as you move forward and begin to put money away. It’s okay if you can’t do this immediately; it takes a lot of people a long time to be able to put money aside, and you should make it a goal to work to get to that place if you aren’t there immediately.
If you’re struggling with a mental health issue during COVID-19, it’s no wonder; and you’re not alone, as about half of Americans report struggling with their mental health during the pandemic, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. It’s not your fault, and we all have to reconcile with the fact that many things are not in our control during COVID-19. As much as you can control, try to. But remember to ask for help, be kind to yourself, and seek breaks when possible. The pandemic has been long-reaching, and it isn’t going to end anytime soon; nor will the mental health problems surrounding it. But as long as you remain vigilant and honest with yourself, you can get through this.