The danger of getting physically sick from the coronavirus is not the only danger to Americans. As confirmed cases of the coronavirus continue to increase in the United States, the virus has the potential to affect the mental and emotional well-being of people in this country.
“It is not only the illness that becomes a pandemic, but the same can be inferred about fear, mourning, and despair,” wrote Jacqueline Levin, a psychiatrist at North Shore University Hospital in New York, in Psychiatry of Pandemics.
Research has provided information about the mental health effects of previous outbreaks that could explain the possible effects of the coronavirus pandemic. According to researchers in Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, feelings of fear, paranoia and anger during an outbreak could cause behavior that includes resistance to public health measures, overburdening of hospitals and clinicians, and abandoning responsibilities to families and jobs.
Stanley Jones, 61, is an individual at a higher risk of being affected by the coronavirus based on his age, according to the Center for Disease Control. Yet, he does not support the practice of wearing a face mask.
“I only wear [a mask] because it is the law,” said Jones. “If it were not, then I wouldn’t wear one. I’m skeptical about the information from the media regarding masks and their effectiveness.”
Researchers state factors such as being female or elderly or having a lower-level education could increase the likelihood of experiencing mental health issues as well.
“It’s been a struggle for me not to feel isolated during this time because I live for social interaction,” said Alexandria Stiger, 26, a FedEx employee currently working from home. “That’s why I make an effort to stay connected with my sorority sisters and other friends through Zoom.”
Victoria Hendree, 23, a junior at the University of Memphis, says this time has been hard for her, especially because she struggles with a mental illness.
“Not being able to see people, not being able to connect [in person] has been upsetting and very depressing,” said Hendree.
Despite the psychological outcome of the coronavirus, faith could be the reason many get through this global health pandemic. In a study among survivors of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the survivors felt “they were strengthened through their belief in god.”
As a Christian, Terri Williams, 52, believes that her trust in God is the reason she has been able to maintain her sanity throughout these past few months.
“My faith is strong,” said Williams. “I know [God] will bring me through this situation. He has brought me this far.”
Matius Lubrido, 24, an online student at Southern New Hampshire University, has relied on his faith to remain optimistic.
“I have to read the bible and study scriptures because it helps me to be motivated. It gives me hope that better days are yet to come,” said Lubrido.
More research offers additional coping methods for reducing stress and managing mental health:
· Use past experiences to help deal with the coronavirus.
· Think of your thoughts and behavior from those experiences when determining how to handle current situations related to the pandemic.
· Do not spend all of your time following the media coverage of the pandemic.
· Focus on things in your life that are going well and that you can control.
“Photography is my source of happiness that allows me to pass the time and do what I love,” said Jessica Boyd, 32, an employee of the United States Postal Service.