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COVID-19's Effect on Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession has negatively-impacted people all over the world. While we have, and may still be, isolated at home, many have taken on additional responsibilities such as looking after children and elders. This, along with being confined on our own and the constant stream of information from news and social media, has further exacerbated feelings of fear and anxiety. This has led to a heightened acknowledgement of the pandemics’ mental health ramifications in the media.

As a result, the conversation around mental health has become more diverse and open than ever before, which has created a space for people to access and demand services that they may have shied away from earlier. Many platforms are now offering mental help online, such as BetterLYF.com, who have seen a spike of about 400% in the number of people reaching out to them. The same can be seen across the board on many other platforms. These services are easily accessible and are an incredibly valuable resource during these uncertain times. However, it can be difficult to identify whether we are in need of help.

There are many symptoms that indicate that a person’s mental health may have been negatively affected. For example, some people deal with uncertainty and stress by eating more than usual, and often a lot of junk food. Once in a while is not necessarily a bad thing, however if it becomes a regular eating pattern, it may be a sign of emotional distress. Similarly, a decreased appetite could also be a sign of anxiety. One surprising symptom is avoiding social interaction, such as avoiding calls from friends and family. Needing time alone is normal, but during social distancing and lockdown this may be a sign that someone is having difficulty dealing with the situation. 

“The scale of this problem is too serious to ignore, both in terms of every human life that may be affected, and in terms of the wider impact on society." says Rory O’Connor, professor of Health Psychology at the University of Glasgow. Clearly, the uncertainty around COVID-19 has had profound impacts on mental health. Therefore if you, or anyone you know is currently struggling, it is important to take steps to protect our mental health: reach out to loved ones, find distractions, think positively, and switch off from social media. If it is becoming especially difficult, seeking professional help, whether online or in person, can be incredibly beneficial and there should be no shame in doing so. 

If you are in need of help, reach out to the Thailand Samaritans English helpline: 02-713-6791

By Carolyn Suradejvibul, Year 12 at Bangkok Patana School