The reality is, I am worried about the mental wellness of our nation.
I am an extrovert, I am a therapist and I like being with people. I am a fairly well adjusted person with decent coping skills and often times this “social distancing” is causing me to feel like I may lose my mind.
Now…let’s think about people who are far worse off than I am. One example that comes to mind are small business owners who are losing their life’s work having been shut down for the last six weeks. Many small business owners are absolutely devastated right now as they will never reopen the enterprise they have labored for years. What about the children and intimate partners living in abusive conditions, sheltering in place with their abuser? One hospital in Bakersfield, California has reported an increase in sexual abuse cases as well as domestic violence cases in the last six weeks. That is not just the case in California as there have been worldwide reports with similar findings. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/world/coronavirus-domestic-violence.html?smid=em-share)
We must also remember those who already had mental health struggles such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse. How will they be affected by being cooped up in their homes with minimal social outlets and potentially no employment? After the economic recession in 2008, research published in The Lancet in 2012 estimated that the U.S. suffered 4,750 “excess suicide deaths.”
The reality is, the economic despair we are experiencing will lead to people deteriorating emotionally, financially and mentally. The after effects of this economic shut down will be nothing short of disastrous. Lives will be ruined, alcoholism and depression will be running rampant and the suicide rate will skyrocket. If it happened with the 2008 recession, it will happen again, on a much larger scale. I want to encourage those of us who are a bucket of nerves, but otherwise coping, to be there for those of us who are truly struggling. If you come across someone contemplating suicide or self harming please lift them up and encourage them to seek professional help. Let’s prepare ourselves to be aware and to provide comfort to those who need it.