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Mental Health Concerns on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, from long incubation periods and asymptomatic individuals, to the fear of losing a source of income and jobs, to worries about vulnerable and at-risk family members and friends. These uncertainties - for the most part - are out of everybody’s control, which is creating a great deal of anxiety, fear, and depression for many Americans.

How is COVID-19 Impacting Mental Health?

According to YouGov’s COVID-19 tracker, conducted between April 13th and April 20th, three in five Americans reported they fear they’ll contract the virus. Surprisingly those in younger age groups were more likely to rate themselves ad “very scared” of getting sick, with 22% of adults from 18 to 34 years saying they were “very scared” and just 16% of people 55+ considering themselves “very scared”. See the below chart provided by Healthline:

Healthline COVID Coronavirus Chart

Healthline’s survey found that 49% of respondents showed some signs of depression ranging from mild to severe, as measured by the PHQ-4 scale, a standardized measure of anxiety and depression. Historically, that number has stayed around 37%, making it clear mental health concerns are on the rise. Healthline provides the below visual:

Healthline COVID Coronavirus depression chart

With significantly altered daily routines, financial pressures, health worries, and social isolation, it’s no surprise mental health concerns are plaguing the country, and the globe. On top of that, there are a lot of rumors and misinformation spreading quickly through media outlets and social media, which can amplify feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and sadness during this tough time. These feelings can also lead to substance and opioid abuse, which has been another struggle in itself during the coronavirus pandemic.

Related Blog: The Opioid Crisis and COVID-19

Mental Health Resources to Share with Communities

As mental health concerns continue to rise throughout the COVID-19 emergency, it’s important for state and local officials to provide and share resources to help communities, as well as communicate these resources internally to government staff. Everybody is suffering in different ways, so providing help and acknowledging the problem can instill confidence and could end up saving and changing lives.

By using a mass notification solution, users can send out the below tips to help residents when taking care of their body and mind, and share when citizens should seek additional help for their mental health concerns.

Taking care of your body. 

Mental health can take a huge toll on your body, especially for those having difficulty sleeping or for those turning to food, alcohol, or drugs. Mayo Clinic recommends the following tips to help people be mindful of their physical health:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Participate in regular physical activity
  • Eat healthy
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
  • Limit screen time
  • Relax and recharge

Taking care of your mind. 

Not only do mental health issues - such as depression and anxiety - take a toll on a person’s body, but they also take a toll on your mind. Here’s what Mayo Clinic recommends to reduce stress triggers:

  • Keep a regular routine
  • Limit exposure to news media
  • Stay busy and distracted
  • Focus on positive thoughts
  • Set priorities

Related Blog: Phase 2 Coronavirus: What Will It Look Like and How Communities  Can Prepare

Get help when you need it. 

Depression and anxiety can sometimes lead to worsening symptoms, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts. It’s important for community members to understand if symptoms are worsening and know when it’s time to reach out to others for help. Mayo Clinic shares the following ways to reach out for help:

  • Call your primary care provider or mental health professional to ask about appointment options to talk about your anxiety or depression and get advice and guidance.
  • Contact organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for help and guidance.
  • If your employer has one, contact your employee assistance program and get counseling or ask for a referral to a mental health professional.
  • If you're feeling suicidal or thinking of hurting yourself, seek help immediately. Call the suicide hotline – in the U.S. you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.

Leverage Technology to Help

Some state and local governments have technology tools, such as public safety profiles and a mass notification solution, that could be a huge help for those concerned with mental health issues.

Related Blog: The Benefits of Smart911 and Rave Prepare During the Coronavirus  Pandemic

Citizens can easily create themselves and family members a public safety profile and list important information such as an address, health concerns, mental illnesses, and more. When a telecommunicator answers an emergency 9-1-1 call, and the caller has a comprehensive public safety profile, the dispatcher will have access to all of the information provided by that individual. This makes it easier for first responders arriving on scene as they’ll have been given important information to assist them in the emergency response.

Mass notification solutions can also be a helpful technology tool, as users can send out resources and tips to registrants who may benefit from receiving them. SMS opt-in can be extremely helpful as this feature allows state and local governments to set up a keyword and short code about a specific topic, such as mental health resources. By setting up the keyword and short code, for example "MENTALHEALTH" and 112233, residents can text this keyword to opt-in to receive specific alerts surrounding mental health, tips and resources, and available mental health services in the area designed to help those struggling through the pandemic.

Universal - State and Local Coronavirus Recovery Solution

Tara Gibson
Tara Gibson

Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12 education, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!

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