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How Is COVID-19 Impacting Mental Health?

5 minute read

By now, you are well aware of how the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down. While most people recognize the negative effects on the economy and society, we’re now beginning to understand how COVID-19 is also impacting the mental health of millions of people around the world.

Millions of people worldwide suffer from mental health issues each year. The United States is one of the most affected areas: 1 in 5 adults will have some sort of mental illness during their lifetime. And that’s not during a crisis like the pandemic!

Since the start of COVID-19, you’ve probably noticed feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. With all the changes to daily routines, you may be feeling isolated, having financial pressure, building unhealthy habits, and more. You’re not alone! There’s been a noticeable increase in cases of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse since the start of the pandemic, especially within the United States.   

Understanding Mental Health

Your mental state takes into account your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. All these affect how you make decisions, handle stress and obstacles, and relate to other people.

Many variables can impact your mental health. For example, stressful life circumstances can trigger emotions related to fear, anger, and sadness. At times, it can feel incredibly challenging to cope with these emotions.

What Is Mental Illness? 

When a person has a mental illness, they have a condition that is defined as one that affects their mood, thinking, and behavior. Common mental disorders include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Only a qualified professional can diagnose you with a mental illness. If you feel like your mental state is affected by depression, anxiety, or something else, reach out to your primary care doctor or a mental health professional for support.

Mental Health and Mental Illness: The Difference

Although the terms mental health and mental illness are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. It is important to understand that a person diagnosed with mental illness can still experience periods of joy, happiness, and stabilization. Subsequently, a person can have poor mental health even if they don’t have a mental illness.

How Is COVID-19 Impacting Mental Health?

The coronavirus pandemic is causing many people to feel out-of-control and anxious. Many people are struggling with one or more of the following:

  • Medical issues (contracting the virus or someone they love contracting the virus)
  • Economic stressors
  • Job-related anxieties, like unemployment, fear of unemployment, adjustments related to working from home, feeling unsafe in the workplace
  • Interpersonal stressors (disagreeing with loved ones about safety precautions; supervising children while they attend school online; tension with a spouse, partner, or roommate)
  • Feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Political anxiety
  • Increased escape behaviors, like substance use, overeating, compulsive online shopping, etc.
  • Increased feelings of depression and anxiety

For people with pre-existing mental illnesses, COVID-19 may be exacerbating some of their symptoms.      

If you’re struggling, it’s important to seek help. You don’t need to have a diagnosable condition to take care of your mental health. Focus on self-care practices, like:

  • Eating well (a good mix of fruits and vegetables with sweets in moderation)
  • Exercising regularly – Even walking will help!
  • Staying connected to your support system
  • Practicing mindfulness

Additionally, many therapists and psychiatrists are offering telehealth appointments. Talking with a professional can help you process difficult emotions and learn new techniques for managing stress and uncertainty.

How Are We Adjusting Treatment to Keep Our Patients Safe?

When it comes to seeking treatment for substance abuse, most people are aware of potential challenges: Will insurance cover it? Will their boss let them take time off work? But a pandemic isn’t likely to be one of the challenges you considered as you thought about treatment! And it could make a few things more difficult, like:

  • Changes in your financial situation
  • Changes in your insurance that could impact treatment coverage
  • State and county rules regarding social distancing and other safety measures
  • Your level of tolerance related to overall pandemic safety

At Footprints to Recovery, we know this is an unprecedented time, and we have options for receiving quality care while keeping you and your loved ones safe. In addition to treating addiction, we’re also here for you if you’re struggling with a co-occurring disorder, like depression or anxiety.

Adhering to Safety First

Above all, we prioritize the safety of our current staff and patients. We are closely following all guidelines set by the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

As part of our policy, we are asking that any visitor with flu-like, fever, or cold symptoms please stay home. We will also be reporting any known COVID-19 cases to the local health department to ensure the safety of our staff and patients.

While our patients can still have visitors, we are limiting access for emergency purposes only. This rule is intended to reduce contact with too many people.

Telehealth Options

All Footprints to Recovery locations have telehealth capabilities. Although telehealth is different from traditional face-to-face services, you will still receive support, monitoring, and guidance for your recovery. Regardless of where you live, you will be able to access the treatment you need.

Our virtual treatment services include:

  • Medical appointments
  • Individual and group therapy sessions
  • Meetings with case managers and other treatment team professionals

We provide all patients with the opportunity to remain connected with their ongoing treatment.

We have an active alumni community that’s used to regularly getting together in person for fun activities. While we can’t do that right now, our alumni aren’t left out! We’re offering weekly virtual meetings for alumni and their families every Thursday at 9 PM EST.

Virtual Support Group Meetings

Our patients have access to numerous support groups for ongoing treatment, accountability, and support:

Paying for Addiction Treatment

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), your health insurance may cover some or all treatment costs.

At Footprints to Recovery, we work with many major insurance companies. We also provide a variety of other payment options to help people afford the treatment that they need. Our admissions team will help you understand and verify your insurance plan and its benefits.

Footprints to Recovery Is Here to Help You

This too shall pass. With resources and help, you can get through the difficult time we’re in. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Footprints to Recovery for compassionate, comprehensive addiction treatment. If you or a loved one is suffering from mental illness and/or addiction issues, you are not alone! Help is available and accessible during COVID-19. Contact us today.


David Szarka
Medically Reviewed by David Szarka, MA, LCADC
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