With the advent of the novel coronavirus, many of us found ourselves in the middle of what once would have been considered a sci-fi movie or thriller. In fact, more than one movie has been made about a pandemic scenario: “Contagion” (2011), “Pontypool” (2008), “The Stand” (1994) and “Outbreak” (1995).
Just like the people in these movies, many Americans are experiencing high levels of emotional distress—dealing with feelings of frustration and anger, feeling powerless and frightened, having concerns about health issues and trying to figure out what can be done to protect yourself and your loved ones from an unknown and invisible enemy. But the pandemic has created another crisis as well: a mental health crisis.
If that wasn’t enough, the rioting and civil unrest that our country now faces have taken a pot that was close to boiling over and turned it into a pressure cooker. People are scared, and according to experts, a major mental health crisis is just around the corner.
How the Pandemic is Affecting Mental Health
When not managed and dealt with properly, all these emotions can lead to serious problems. In a recent poll, 56% of Americans indicated that stress and worry related to the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in at least one negative mental health issue in their life. Many times, more than one. For those who’ve lost jobs and those working as frontline health care workers, at least 64% have reported a worsening of their mental health.
Social distancing and quarantine measures lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Loss of jobs and livelihoods has caused tremendous stress and fear. Suicides, homicides and child abuse have all increased over the last few months. According to the CDC, stress caused by things like the pandemic generally results in:
- Increased use and abuse of tobacco, alcohol and other substances
- Having trouble concentrating or sleeping
- Changes in eating and sleep patterns
- A worsening of mental health issues
- A worsening of chronic health issues
Religion and Mental Health
As Christians, we need to stop and remember who shelters us under His wings. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Remember to spend time each day with the One who can sustain you and comfort you. Open your Bible and read. Not sure where to start? How about Psalm 23? Here are some other internet resources where you may find comfort and inspiration:
- “Where is God in Coronavirus?”
- “Faith in the time of Coronavirus”
- “Coronavirus Bible Verses—Get Peace and Hope from God”
Additional Mental Health Resources
Although God and His Word will provide comfort and help, don’t neglect to use other resources when you need them. They’re there because people who care are available when you need someone. Sometimes you need someone to be the proverbial hands of Christ—to reach out and lift you up when you can no longer do it for yourself. When you feel the depths closing in around you, do as Simon Peter did when he tried to walk on water and took his eyes off of Jesus, reach out and grab the hand that is outstretched to you. Someone is there waiting to help.
If you find yourself in a crisis, these resources can help. Someone is available 24/7, so don’t hesitate to call or initiate a chat, day or night, if you find yourself in the middle of a crisis.
- Immediate Help: When help is needed quickly, don’t hesitate—dial 911.
- Suicidal Thoughts or Tendencies: Are you or someone you know dealing with suicidal thoughts or tendencies? Speak to a trained counselor now at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat online with someone through their Lifeline Chat.
- Domestic Violence: Are you experiencing domestic violence in your home? Speak to one of the National Domestic Violence Hotline counselors at 1-800-799-7233, TTY to 1-800-787-3224 or text LOVEIS to 22522 and get the help you need.
- Elder Abuse: Elder Abuse can also be reported to the above numbers for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Additional help and services for the elderly can be found using the Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging. Their number is 1-800-677-1116. The Eldercare Locator number is not manned 24/7. If you are reporting abuse and need immediate assistance, please do so by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, TTY to 1-800-787-3224 or text LOVEIS which is available 24/7.
- Child Abuse: Do you know or suspect incidences of child abuse? Don’t let a child suffer needlessly. Call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 or text a message to 1-800-422-4453. Better safe than sorry. A child’s life may depend on you.
- Sexual Assault: Are you the victim of sexual assault? Contact a counselor at the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or chat online with a trained crisis counselor.
- Disaster Distress: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers help in times of disasters such as that caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Get help by calling their Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to talk to a trained crisis counselor. If you need help finding a health care provider or want to get treatment for mental health or a substance use disorder, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or TTY to 1-800-487-4889. SAMHSA also provides behavioral health treatment services locator that enables you to look for treatment facilities confidentially and anonymously.
- Veterans: Are you a veteran or service member in crisis or know of a vet or service member who needs help? Contact the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with a caring and qualified VA responder on their online Crisis Chat.
Help is available. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone. As you can see, there are lots of places someone can go to get the help they need in times of crisis. The people providing this help have been trained to assist individuals with various types of issues.
If you feel a calling or envision yourself wanting to pursue a career that allows you to help someone with their mental health issues, you might want to pursue a psychology associate or bachelor’s degree or an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree in counseling. If so, look no further than the University of Cumberlands. With professors who have years of real-world experience in the same field they are teaching, very competitive tuition rates, and a sense of honor in everything we do, why look any further? See what UC can do for you by contacting an admissions counselor for more information.