Managing Mental Health in a Post-Pandemic World
Learn about individuals’ strategies to achieve mental well-being
By Luís Aparício | August 26, 2021
Photo by Emma Simpson | Unsplash
A study by the Canadian Mental Health Association has revealed that the mental health of many Canadians has worsened due to Covid-19. The hope of a return to normalcy accelerates the necessity for the government to provide greater support and enact prevention policies.
Protecting and promoting good mental health is paramount, especially during a time of unprecedented stress and anxiety. A recent Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA/UBC), study about the effects of Covid-19 on the mental health of vulnerable populations, found that 40 percent of Canadians have experienced a decline in their mental health since the start of the pandemic.
“Many of us exercise outdoors to cope with stress, but one in five use substances like drugs and alcohol to cope,” the study found.
A 2020 opinion poll found that 7 in 10 Ontario residents believe there will be a “severe mental health crisis” due to the pandemic. Their concerns are justified. Past economic and public health crises have been associated with severe and prolonged negative impacts on individual and collective mental health – but this is not necessarily inevitable.
Psychologist Valda Lopo, from Integration Clinical and School Psychology, was not surprised by the statistics. “The pandemic was a huge stress for most people who were probably already lagging in their ability to cope with it,” she highlights.
Making Mental Health Accessible
Lopo suggests that one of the things that greatly helps a human being when going through such a major trauma is a return to routine. “During the pandemic, people lost control of a lot of things in their lives. So, it would be important for the government to start returning people to the normality of everyday life.”
Though, that alone is not enough. The psychologist stresses that mental health care needs to be made accessible – “access to mental health, here, is very precarious,” she points out. In addition, the government must increase funding for institutions that provide mental health programs, especially to visible minorities.
Are We Ready for a New Pandemic?
“It would be devastating if we had to face that. However, human beings have a capacity for adaptation and creativity. So even if problems arise, solutions will also emerge,” says the psychologist.
Valda Lopo emphasizes that it would be important “to take advantage of this moment in which people have become more sensitive and to develop prevention programs.” How to behave in a pandemic? What mechanisms do we have to deal with stress? Fundamentally, she sums up, “tools” must be provided to deal with the pandemic.
Interactivity with relatives and friends helps to keep the mind healthy.
Tips for those whose Mental Health is Affected
Valda Lopo has these important tips for those who feel their mental health is being affected: to keep a routine, use virtual platforms to talk to people at a distance; maintain social contacts; avoid drugs and alcohol to cope with stress; utilize the support from family and friends; take breaks and enjoy more time with family; daily exercise and get a good night’s rest.
Finally, Lopo encourages people in the community to seek help. “Recognize when you need help, and don’t be ashamed to seek help. Whether it’s professional help, whether it’s help from friends, whether it’s help from your family doctor, but do seek help,” she urges.
The Struggle of Depression and Advice for Achieving a Good Mental Health
Ana Maria, 77 years old, retired, and Margarida Martins, 53 years old, an interpreter ( fictitious names to protect their identity), are two examples of many who have seen their mental health take a turn for the worse.
Discover Magazine – How has the Covid-19 pandemic worsened your mental health?
Ana Maria – I am sadder, I have chest pains, and I am more anxious, but after taking my medication for depression, I feel calmer, and that’s how my days have been.
Margarida Martins – The pandemic affected my mental health in some aspects. The first was not being able to work and the constant fear of contracting the virus. Second, it was eliminating a normal life and seeing many people lose their loved ones to this virus.
DM – What advice would you give to anyone suffering from any negative effects on their quality of life as a result of weakened mental health?
Ana Maria – The advice I give to people who have depression is to go out for a walk. It’s very good to be in contact with nature. We feel good when this happens. However, when I get home, the depression returns, and I start to feel a stronger pressure in my chest. Conclusion: the ideal is to go out more often during the day to relieve the tension.
Margarida Martins – My advice to people suffering from depression is to make an appointment with a mental health specialist because the sooner this illness is treated, the less likely the consequences will be. Another piece of advice is that people shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. This illness happens to all of us, some more seriously than others.
Another tip: look on the bright side of life.
We invite you to read the latest edition of Discover magazine
August 2021 : https://www.magazinediscover.com/discover-digital/