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Mental Health: Quarantining and Working from Home

With COVID-19 we have heard about the common respiratory issues it has caused on the millions of people who have contracted the virus. We have heard about a possible link to lingering heart and lung problems, among many other ways the virus directly impacts us. Now, what sometimes goes unnoticed is the indirect impact it may have. COVID-19 has forced many of us to work from home, lose our jobs or lose the ability to get out and socialize with our friends or loved ones. Losing an outlet and being stuck at home can have a dramatically negative impact on those struggling with mental illness. The feelings of isolation and loneliness can increase the feelings the anxiety and depression. In Health Journal V, we are going to discuss mental illness and how there are some things you can do if you’re struggling during this time.

The Numbers:

We often hear about mental illness and how prevalent it is in the United States, but seeing the actual data can be jarring. Below we are going to list the numbers behind mental illness, how it affects different ethnicities and how often those struggling get treatment.

  • 1% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018 (47.6 million people). This represents almost 1 in 5 adults.
  • 6% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness in 2018 (11.4 million people). This represents 1 in 25 adults.
  • 5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people).
Demographic Breakdown:
  • Non-Hispanic Asian: 14.7%
  • Non-Hispanic white: 20.4%
  • Non-Hispanic black or African-American: 16.2%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 16.9%
  • Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual: 37.4%
  • Major Depressive Episode: 7.2%
  • Schizophrenia: <1%
  • Bipolar Disorder: 2.8%
  • Anxiety Disorders: 19.1%
  • Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4%
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6%
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: 1.2%
Mental Health Care:
  • 3% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2018
  • 1% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness received treatment in 2018
  • 6% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental illness received treatment in 2018

Tips to stay healthy:

Like we mentioned above, with the prevalence of COVID-19 and the direct health problems it causes, we can sometimes forget about the indirect complications. Maintaining healthy habits that contribute to a positive mental health state are crucial but not always easy. Here we will list a few ways that may be able to help.

  • Keep a routine: For those who struggle with mental health, being at home and losing our normal routine can have a major impact. It might be easier to maintain a similar routine if you have children, but for those who don’t have kids and are working from home, it’s easy to fall into a more lethargic lifestyle and one that tends to lead to negative thinking. A few tips are to try to shower, eat meals, wake up and go to sleep at your normal times and it’s also important to get out of those pajamas. Sticking to your routine helps create a sense of normalcy but it also keeps you busy and active which will help to limit negative thoughts and make a transition back to work a little smoother once that happens.
  • Maintain Boundaries: As mentioned above, it can be easy to fall into those certain work from home traps where you stay in your pajamas or fall into a less productive routine, but boundaries are very important. Creating boundaries where you don’t allow yourself to work in bed or on the couch will help create mental zones and specific places that are designed for certain activities. Making sure you only work from your desk or eat at your kitchen table will create a less chaotic environment and allows you to separate work from playtime. Losing these boundaries muddles your routine, making days seem very long and can lead to overthinking.
  • Start a new activity: With newfound free time, why not pick up a new activity or try something new? There is an array of activities to choose from, maybe going for a walk each morning to help get out of the house or starting a journal that you write in every afternoon at 4 pm. Having something special or unique that you enjoy will help you look forward to each day with excitement and energy.

If you need help:

It’s always most important to ask for help if you need it. Mental health unfortunately still carries a stigma in some circles here in the United States, but as you can see above, it is more prevalent than ever. It’s important to know you’re not alone and there is help available for you or your loved ones.  Below we will list just a few of those options.

Help in a crisis:
  • Call 911
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish) or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablamos for Spanish to 66746.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 for English or 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish.
  • Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 or text 8388255
Professional Help:
  • Telehealth: Many licensed psychologists are using telehealth options during the COVID-19 pandemic through HIPAA secure platforms. These psychologists are willing and able to help virtually even if you are unable to visit their office.
  • In-person: The importance and necessity for psychologists have allowed many of them to stay open and allowed them to continue to offer services. If you do not feel comfortable in a face-to-face visit, the telehealth option is there for you. However, if you would like to seek in-person counseling, there should be options available in your community. If you would like to see the immediate options available to you, please click the link.

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