TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - While a vaccine will fight off physical symptoms of COVID-19, health officials are concerned about a deeper issue they expect will outlast the pandemic -- mental health.
A Gallup poll from last month shows Americans mental health is the worse it’s been in two decades and down nearly 10% from 2019. This is without a doubt a result of the way the pandemic has disrupted our lives -- from isolation to the loss of loved ones and normalcy.
Kim Livingston-Cobb is a professional licensed counselor and the Associate Dean of Students at UT Tyler, she says “there’s also lot of grief, whether it’s grief related to illness or not there’s also a grief of what we’re missing out on.”
Stress, social distancing and financial burdens have made it easier for us to put our well-being on the back burner, while we focus on what seems to be more immediate and pressing matters.
One mental health expert from UT Health Science center, Dr. Beverly Bryant, says “just as you wouldn’t put off cancer treatment because you’re afraid you can’t afford it or how you’re going to pay for it, you can’t put off your mental health treatment. You need to seek that care”
She says people ignoring potential signs of depression or anxiety and not getting care is one of her biggest concerns. She includes that health officials are working on uncovering possible neurological side effects from having COVID-19.
“If you’ve been exposed or if you’ve had it be aware of those kind of problems and it may be related to that initial infection,” says Dr. Bryant.
Regardless of what the mental health issues stem from, she says keeping quiet about it is the worse course of action. She says some symptoms to look for involve fatigue, difficulty focusing, lack of motivation, or trouble with sleep.
She says it’s important to recognize every level of mental health problems can be treated, but ignoring them will only hurt in the future. She adds that major depression requires professional help but some things can temporarily help like setting reminders for simple tasks like simply going outside.
Dr. Bryant says to strive for the little things to remind ourselves that this is still temporary.