Despite Vaccine Hopes, Mental Health will Be One of the Pandemic’s Biggest Issues This year - Expert

Mental health struggles are anticipated to increase in 2021, based on the struggles endured by so many in 2020, CNN Health has reported.

Lisa Carlson, the immediate former president of the American Public Health Association, told the news outlet that the indelible impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the collective psyche is likely to remain.

"As the physical risks of the pandemic become better managed with vaccine progress, the mental darkness of the crisis will be harder to overcome," Carlson said. 

She added that the physical aspects of the pandemic have really been visible, adding that there has been economic stress, fear of illness and disruption of routines in the past year.

"We don't have a vaccine for our mental health like we do for our physical health. So it will take longer to come out of those challenges," she said. 

According to the expert, how one manages stress is crucial to finding respite from the pandemic, and it comes back to the basics. 

She recommends activities such as being safely outdoors and around trees, saying it can improve someone's overall health. 

"When you can, take time to wind down and disconnect from the news." 

 

She also encourages everyone to focus on the basics, which include sleeping, eating healthy meals, staying mobile and spending times with loved ones as well as with pets. 

"Taking care of ourselves and each other should be everyone's focus as we go into 2021," she said.

Since the onset of the virus, mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety have skyrocketed owing to a variety of reasons, among them the unavailability of the health services as hospitals cater to surging cases of the disease. 

According to the World Health Organization, bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear have been triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones.

In October last year, the World Health Organization revealed that the pandemic had disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93 percent of countries worldwide, even as the demand for the services increased. 

Margaret Njugunah