Iowa Specialty Hospital

Raising Mental Health Awareness Amid COVID-19

April 20, 2020

The following article is provided by Alexis Morgan who is a licensed independent social worker and one of our counseling and therapy providers. 

Over the past couple months we have all been reading the headlines, “These are unprecedented times; we must flatten the curve; everyone’s health is at risk”.  As we move closer to May 2020, Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to take a moment to call our attention to the profound impact COVID-19 is having on EVERYONE’s mental health.  The medical professionals are doing everything they can to educate and prevent the most vulnerable from contracting this scary virus, with the ultimate goal of flattening the curve.  As a mental health professional, I must take this opportunity to share some daunting news: No one will get out of this pandemic without experiencing at least some mental health changes.  The mental health “curve” is not being flattened. Rather it is being heightened more than ever seen in recent history.

Those individuals who have previously been able to say, “I have never struggled with anxiety and/or depression” are now finding themselves questioning what is going on for them mentally.  Common questions include:

  • Is feeling numb normal and ok?
  • Why am I so jumpy?
  • Why am I yelling at my kids so much more and can hardly tolerate my partner?
  • Where did this chest pain come from?
  • I’m so extremely tired but can’t figure out why; nothing has changed for me…
  • I’m incredibly tearful but can’t pinpoint why…

We can all agree that everyone is experiencing some level of quarantine/social distancing; therefore experiencing related psychological impacts.  These impacts can be magnified by job loss, inability to pay bills or put food on the table, and can increase the prevalence of domestic or child abuse.  Short-term impacts include anxiety, inability to sleep, and acute stress.  The more serious long-term impacts include but are not limited to, substance abuse, continuing avoidance behaviors like social distancing or not allowing oneself to be in a crowd/large gathering post the COVID threat, and not going to work.  In order for individuals to cope with their increased mental health symptoms there has been an increased demand from our formal and informal supports.  Formal supports include crisis and suicide hotlines as well as mental health therapy. Along with these formal supports, our informal support people are being accessed more than ever before.  Whether it is to process the latest news report, or to grieve the many changes in our life, the unshakable truth is that we need each other.  We need our pain to be heard, and our worries to be normalized.  

As a mental health provider, it is my prayer that one of the long-term outcomes of COVID-19 will be an “unprecedented” understanding and never before seen level of compassion for mental illness.  I hope that everyone will step up and step out for mental health awareness, and that our negative perspectives and the daunting stigma will be forever changed.  I have faith that there will be a lot more kindness and a lot less judgement, and that we will recognize that life is too short.  As we have been hearing over the past couple months, “we are all in this together”, and it’s time to apply this to our mental healthcare.  We can also emerge from this with a new perspective and appreciation for high quality accessible mental healthcare.  We can all be in this together for the greater good of everyone!

God’s Blessings - Alexis Morgan, LISW

If you believe you or a loved one needs counseling services, please follow the link below to learn more or call 844-474-4321 to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.

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