Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced the challenges of unprecedented magnitude around the world. On a global level, this outbreak put most countries’ economies to an ultimate test of resilience. However, the impact of the pandemic extends deeper, affecting hundreds of millions of residents. More specifically, the outbreak of this potentially lethal disease has forced governments to implement full-scale containment procedures that comprised lockdown protocols. As a result, most economic activities were halted, including the traditional formats of non-essential jobs, as the work-from-home format prevailed in most cases. In addition, to impede the transmission of the virus, serious restrictions were imposed on the population, aiming to reduce personal contacts to a minimum. Amid the ongoing concerns for personal health, as well as the well-being of friends and families, people became locked in their homes for a long time. Under such circumstances, the pandemic has become especially stressful for the population, causing major mental risks. The purpose of this paper is to examine the mental issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as feasible solutions.
Early 2020 marks the beginning of one of the largest virus outbreaks in modern history. While COVID-19 is not the first pandemic encountered by the humanity in the 21st century, the magnitude of this particular situation has been unprecedented. The outbreak originated from China and rapidly spread across the globe instigated by the complex globalization of trade and social relations. The potential harm of the virus was found highly alarming by most governments that sought to prevent the pandemic from taking more lives. As such, serious measures of containment were implemented in most areas of the globe in an attempt to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further. These measures comprised the restrictions of personal interaction, forcing the population to stay at home and only go outside for crucial errands. Most non-essential jobs were relocated into the digital environment, whereas public gatherings, such as concerts, exhibitions, and sports events, were canceled (Magson et al., 2021). While the severity of COVID-19 justifies such measures from the public health perspective, the restrictions became a major stressor for the population forced to live in isolation indefinitely.
The containment procedures implemented amid the pandemic aimed at protecting the physical health of the population. Indeed, the common experience suggests that COVID-19 has the potential to inflict serious damage on the various systems of an individual. Respiratory and cardiovascular complications of the disease are grave, and they become even worse with certain underlying conditions. Furthermore, the long-term implications of severe COVID-19 cases are yet to be seen. However, in pursuit of the physical protection, people’s mental health was put at risk. Accordingly, it becomes necessary for each individual to remain mindful of his or her mental condition under these unprecedented circumstances. The search of feasible solutions to the problem is a subject of intense interest for researchers and experts. Overall, an investigation of the primary risk factors is required for effective, well-pointed interventions.
Solitude and Isolation
First of all, the primary risk of COVID-19 for mental health are associated with the prolonged isolation that most individuals had to withstand amid the restrictions. Personal contacts were reduced to a minimum, and the vast majority of public events had to be canceled. In the 21st century, diverse means of socialization became the norm. In other words, people are used to attending various events of their own interest, spending time in parks and restaurants, as well as simply communicating with others on a daily basis. A confinement within the four walls of their home has disrupted this habitual paradigm, forcing the population to reconsider their means of pastime. According to Magson et al. (2021), the situation is equally difficult for the people who do not live along. More specifically, prolonged confinement leads to the mutual aggravation and conflicts within families, as the stress experienced by several people in an enclosed space accumulates and multiplies.
Another major concern is associated with the immediate physical impact of the COVID-19 contraction. In spite of the serious containment procedures, the transmission of the virus persisted, as it proved impossible to prevent it with an absolute efficacy. Accordingly, the fear of contracting the coronavirus has neve been fully eliminated. Moreover, for many people, the concerns become even more pressing when they consider their relatives and friends (Magson et al. 2021). It has become well-known that COVID-19 has a disproportionally stronger effect on older people, which is why having elderly family members introduced an additional stress factor amid the pandemic. Combined with isolation, the ongoing health-related concerns put the population under the immense stress that can transform into depression in the long-term.
The COVID-19 situation has been overall stressful in many respects, but the idea of indeterminacy is related to the general feeling about it. More specifically, the very idea of a global pandemic of a lethal virus has been difficult to fathom. In addition, due to the unprecedented nature of the situation in recent history, it is nearly impossible to make projections into the future. In other words, most people do not understand how long the pandemic and its restrictions will last. The transition back to normal life can be a matter of several years, which is a daunting prospect for the population. Thus, the indeterminacy of the whole situation is an overarching issue that affects people amid the pandemic.
Recommendations and Conclusions
The pandemic-associated stressors undermine the mental health of the population and require additional attention. As stated by the CDC (2021), the confinement has led to the development of mental issues even within healthier residents. Furthermore, those who already had a certain condition risk having more serious complications in the short-term. In order to address the problem, the CDC (2021) encourages people to remain mindful of their own mental health. One of the proposed solutions prompts residents to limit the information they seek about the pandemic. In most cases, it suffices to know about the current state of the global fight against the virus, as well as doctors’ recommendations. The in-depth exploration of the COVID-19’s effect on health, its complications, and conspiracy theories only worsens the stress.
In addition, it is recommended to implement mental health practices into the daily routine. This approach includes breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness practices, and physical activity. Alcohol and tobacco use is to be reduced to a minimum in order to avoid the unnecessary stress (CDC, 2021). Finally, today’s digital technologies enable at least some degree of socialization in a safer environment. These basic recommendations of the CDC can alleviate most of the stress, allowing people to concentrate on the positive and filtering out the negative. This way, an emphasis on the personal well-being will help communities to resist the ongoing impact of the largest pandemic of the 21st century.
Magson, N. R., Freeman, J. Y. A., Rapee, R. M., Richardson, C. E., Oar, E. L., & Fardouly, J. (2021). Risk and protective factors for prospective changes in adolescent mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 50, 44–57.
CDC (2021). Coping with stress.