Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Mental Health
Covid-19 pandemic is a rampant and mysterious pneumonia first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The distinct origin, natural reservoir, and location of this novel virus remain unclear. This pneumonia is characterized by fever, fatigue, dry cough, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Following its declaration as a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the pandemic has overwhelmed many healthcare systems globally (Wu et al., 2020).
As of March 2022, the virus had disseminated in more than 223 countries with greater than 472 million cases and deaths in excess of 6 million globally (Cascella et al., 2022). These large figures are attributed to waves of outbreaks and the emergence of mutant variants of the virus. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected various sectors, including agricultural, economic, health, human resource, and transport, among other sectors.
The subsequent sections of this paper will explore the reason for the pandemic affecting mental health and wellbeing, the biopsychosocial impacts of Covid-19, and the resources available to support individuals experiencing mental health issues.
Why Covid-19 is Affecting The Mental Health and Wellbeing of Individuals in Australia
Australia has largely been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. As of January 2022, Australia alone had more than 1,254,909 confirmed Covid-19 cases (Flavel & Baum, 2022). This pandemic has affected the mental health and well-being of individuals in Australia. For instance, the prevalence of emotional stress, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder has significantly stretched during the pandemic (Zhao et al., 2022).
However, several factors determine the severity of the impact on mental health and well-being, including age, preexisting conditions, and severity of illness. During this pandemic, a vast majority of individuals are characterized emotionally by fear, anger, sadness, and worry. Additional mental health effects include irritability, confusion, frustration, insomnia, denial, suicide, and guilt (Zhao et al., 2022). People are worried about falling ill, dying, or being mistakenly infected by this mysterious pneumonia.
Social distancing and quarantine have hugely impacted the mental health of individuals infected with Covid-19. These measures are commonly associated with intense fear, low mood, and stress (Zhao et al., 2022). The affected feel helpless, powerless, and lonely due to stigmatization. Consequently, anxiety and depression ensue. Similarly, the mental health of individuals has deteriorated tremendously during the pandemic due to the shifting of psychologists’ and psychiatrists’ services from face to face to online. Online services have been marked by limited accessibility, and little interaction hence diminished efficacy (Zhao et al., 2022).
Besides, the emergence of mental health apps with no proven efficacy has also caused a deterioration in individuals’ mental health and well-being during the pandemic. Victims of the pandemic and those who have witnessed the loss of their loved ones are at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that causes significant impairment in functioning. Furthermore, the pandemic has greatly disrupted the coping strategies and routines. For instance, social distancing and lockdowns limited collective strategies such as hanging out with friends.
Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic considerably disrupted the economic sector resulting in financial difficulties. A scoping review by Dawel et al. (2020) cited financial distress, younger age, and pre-existing mental health condition as more significant contributors to a greater decline in mental health among Australians. Finally, life-altering conflicts, chronic stress, ongoing fear, uncertainty, and hardships during the pandemic spearheaded the decline in mental health and well-being of individuals in Australia.
The Biopsychosocial Impacts of Covid-19 on Individuals Diagnosed with
Covid-19 has negative biopsychosocial impacts on individuals diagnosed with mental illness. Biologically, the condition has multisystemic effects, including effects on the respiratory, cardiac, neurological, renal, and hematological systems (Laher et al., 2021). In the pulmonary system, COVID-19 causes viral pneumonia that can result in hypoxemic respiratory failure or acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Cardiac manifestations of Covid-19 include acute coronary syndromes, myocarditis, cardiac arrhythmias, and heart failure. Covid-19 is also associated with leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and a hypercoagulable state that predisposes to thromboembolic events such as pulmonary embolism and ischemic stroke (Cascella et al., 2022). In the renal system, Covid-19 causes acute kidney while it causes hepatic injury in the hepatobiliary system. Meanwhile, the neurological manifestations of Covid-19 include headaches and altered mental state.
Covid-19 also causes psychological dysfunction, which is more severe in individuals with pre-existing mental illness. Psychological dysfunction typically manifests as depression, anxiety, emotional stress, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (Laher et al., 2021).
This psychological dysfunction is coupled with cognitive and behavioral problems such as addiction, refusing an order, confusion, and inability to solve problems. Several reasons have been cited as the cause of this psychological dysfunction, including isolation, quarantine, high rates of mortality, and socio-economic fallouts caused by this pandemic.
Additionally, Covid-19 negatively impacts social well-being and quality of life. Firstly, there were rampant conflicts due to less contact and interaction because of measures such as social distancing, isolation, and quarantine (Laher et al., 2021). Subsequently, relationships were disrupted. Secondly, the pandemic was characterized by anxiety and excessive distress that increased social vices such as tobacco smoking and alcohol intake.
Similarly, measures such as lockdowns limited the frequency of exercise and enhanced poor dietary habits, including increased consumption of junk foods. Additionally, Covid-19 disrupted how individuals diagnosed with mental illness spent their leisure time. Generally, fewer leisure activities were reported as the instances of anhedonia increased (Flavel & Baum, 2022).
Due to household stress and confinement, most individuals spend more time on television and the internet. In addition, Covid-19-associated lockdowns interfered with education and face-to-face consultation. Finally, the Covid-19 era led to the emergence of new types of socialization, including virtual life and family as a strong agents of socialization.
Resources Available to Help Support People Experiencing Mental Health Issues
Mental health problems are ordinarily chronic and devastating. Individuals with mental health issues tend to have an overall reduced quality of life compared to their counterparts. Consequently, these individuals require help and support. Several local, community and national resources are available to support individuals experiencing mental health issues. For instance, community pharmacies where these individuals can refill their medications.
Additionally, peer and support groups exist where individuals with mental health issues can join and receive support (Samartzis & Talias, 2019). Individuals with mental health issues can also benefit from complimentary and alternative medicines. Similarly, these individuals can obtain help instantly in the event of emergencies from service and crisis lifelines.
Individuals with mental health issues must be provided with necessary information regarding their condition and methods of acquiring help. Several information resources are available online, including Child Mind institute, the Jed Foundation, psychiatric nurse associations, behavioral associations, and the national alliance on mental illness.
Furthermore, individuals with mental illness can benefit from family and social support. The involvement of family and society is critical in providing the necessary encouragement, guidance, and financial management (Castillo et al., 2019). Similarly, community specialists such as psychiatrists and psychologists offer consultative and follow-up services and interventions to individuals with mental health issues.
Besides, individuals with mental health conditions can be linked to respective organizations capable of offering required assistance, such as Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services for individuals suffering from substance use disorders and depression and Bipolar Support Alliance for patients with depressive and bipolar disorders (Samartzis & Talias, 2019).
Various publications, protocols, books, and articles are also available on various platforms that individuals with mental health conditions can explore. Health education is the other central support that all individuals with mental illness should receive. Finally, individuals with mental health issues may use various online platforms such as mental health apps and virtual consultations to obtain the necessary help regarding their condition.
The covid-19 pandemic is a global and public health concern continuously disseminated due to the emergence of novel mutant variants. The pandemic has so far impacted several sectors, including economic, social, health, agricultural, transport, food, and security. This pandemic has also affected the mental health and well-being of individuals in Australia due to social distancing, quarantine, isolation, fear, high mortality, worry, low mood, chronic stress, uncertainty, financial constraints, and hardships associated with this pandemic.
Additionally, the pandemic has a negative biopsychosocial impact on individuals diagnosed with mental illness. This is characterized by adverse effects on the pulmonary, cardiac, hepatobiliary, hematological, neurological, and renal systems, psychological dysfunction, fewer contacts, fewer leisure activities, and an increase in alcohol and tobacco use. Finally, individuals with mental health issues require an elaborate support network to enhance their quality of life. This support and help should encompass local, community, and national resources.
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