With 41% of Americans fully vaccinated and over 70% who have received at least one dose, experts across the United States are cautiously optimistic. While the fight is certainly not over in many other countries due to variants and a lack of access to vaccinations, we are much better off than we were a year ago. The CDC recently recommended that vaccinated people be able to remove their masks, which led to several states eliminating their mask mandates.
The vast majority of states have opened all of their businesses, though some are still limiting capacities. Though normalcy has not quite arrived, we seem to be approaching it. This is exciting news, yet it brings about many other issues that we have yet to resolve. Namely, what are the mental health issues and other problems we will have to face in the post COVID era? Here is what the experts say.
1. Reacclimating to a Mask-less Environment
Before COVID-19, most people in the United States did not wear a mask. Some individuals even viewed masked people as criminals, due to the stereotype of burglars wearing them. After mask mandates became normalized, Americans grew used to mask-wearing. Many people disagreed with mask mandates, while others believed they were an effective safety measure.
Now that mask mandates are on their way out, we will need to adjust to a mask-less society once again. Some people look forward to this and will find it easier to adapt, while others may have a more challenging time. The last year has conditioned many Americans to view mask-less people as dangerous, and this belief will not go away overnight. Other individuals will have a hard time giving up the mask and may wear it for some time. Regardless, experts believe that this transition will be difficult for everyone.
2. Children, School, and Isolation
Of all the groups most impacted by COVID-19, children may be at the top. For many of them, schools were closed for the better part of a year. They had to adjust to online learning, give up sporting events, and stay isolated from friends.
Many children had parents who had to work and could not supervise them during school hours. All of these changes led to astronomical increases in child anxiety disorders, depression, and even suicide rates. As schools reopen, many d
istricts are determining what the mask policies will be, as many children are too young to be vaccinated.
These factors are very difficult for children and will make for a hard transition. Many children will need extensive therapy, help to catch up in school, and other support systems to handle the aftermath.
3. Increase in Anxiety Disorders, OCD, and Substance Abuse
The last year and a half were not the ideal time to have an anxiety disorder, OCD, or addiction. Many individuals with OCD were unsure of how to approach the pandemic. Would obsessive handwashing and mask-wearing be a part of their OCD or just following CDC guidelines? This created a wave of new challenges that individuals had to sort through with healthcare providers.
Moreover, many individuals with no previous history of mental illness now experience some type of mental health issue. There are new cases of anxiety, substance abuse, depression, and OCD that the healthcare community must stay aware of and continue to treat. These are due to the stress of dealing with a sick loved one, financial stress, fear of getting sick, and a sense of being out of control.
4. COVID-19 Patients and Psychiatric Problems
Doctors around the world have noticed that patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are struggling with mental health problems. According to a study, 1 in 3 patients has developed short or long-term psychiatric conditions after being affected. This suggests there is a link between COVID-19 diagnoses and mental health problems.
The study focused on 14 neurological disorders, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. 34% of patients were diagnosed with one of these conditions 6 months after being infected. Substance abuse and insomnia are other conditions that are on the rise in this group.
Finding Help Post COVID-19
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health problem post-COVID-19, it’s important to know that you are not alone. There are many treatments, medications, and support groups available to help. Individuals should talk to a healthcare provider to discuss their options. Furthermore, mindfulness techniques, exercise, and a proper diet are all critical tools to help speed up the recovery process.
Are you struggling with anxiety, trauma, or depression from COVID-19? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.