COVID COUNSELING TO Battle Mental Health Issues
During the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining a healthy mental state is significant but can be difficult without taking the right steps.
COVID-19 Effects on Mental Health
Over a year into the novel coronavirus pandemic, the effects on society have been drastic. While society and daily life have changed alongside physical health for the many people directly affected by the disease, mental health has also been greatly impacted by COVID-19.
How Has COVID Impacted Mental Health?
During a time where the future is uncertain, it is normal for fear and anxiety to play a large role. Over time, these emotions and perspectives harm mental health, with isolation because of quarantine only aiding in the manifestation of depression, anxiety, and other conditions.1
These impacts have also been noticed in children, who also have faced trauma, anxiety, and isolation because of the pandemic.2
One of the most notable mental effects of the pandemic is increased stress.3 Whether out of concern for the disease itself, current events associated with the pandemic, or with job or home insecurity, stress levels are rising around the country. While the rise on its own can be concerning, it can also lead to the development of other mental conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Statistics on Mental Health Issues during COVID
There have been several studies conducted to explore the exact statistics of COVID’s impact on mental health. Occurrences of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and general stress have increased by up to 70%.4 These increases have strongly affected younger generations, especially the female population.
With an increase in mental health issues during the pandemic, more attention has been given to the statistics of substance use disorders as well.
Have SUD Rates Risen During COVID-19?
Studies have long shown that substance use disorders have the potential to rise during periods of high stress. As a result, research has been dedicated to detecting whether substance use disorder rates have risen during COVID. Substance use disorder rates have risen by approximately 11% throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.5
Types of Counseling
During periods of distress, counseling can be beneficial in managing stress and anxiety. With social distancing regulations, virtual counseling has allowed mental health practices to become more readily available.
Types of counseling include:
- Rehabilitation counseling
- Substance abuse counseling
- Mental health counseling
- Marriage counseling
- Grief counseling
- Family counseling
- Career counseling
Mental Health Counseling
For those looking to maintain or improve their mental health, counseling can be a beneficial way to talk through existing problems while also learning new coping mechanisms. However, these aren’t the only benefits of mental health counseling.
Having the skills and knowledge to work through problems in a healthy way can give individuals a new sense of confidence.
Understanding the source of concerns and how to prevent or otherwise navigate negative reactions allow for better personal insight.
Mental health techniques and stress coping skills are valuable life skills that allow individuals to better navigate stressful situations. These skills can extend further than the pandemic to day-to-day life.
Existentialism and life insecurity are common forms of personal distress. By understanding personal thought processes and actions better, individuals will be able to find more contentment in life, especially in external and uncontrollable circumstances.
Preventing Future Distress
By learning to recognize the beginnings of problems or triggers, individuals prevent future distress even though they may be unable to prevent future distressing situations.
Counseling VS. Psychotherapy
Both counseling and psychotherapy, when utilized separately or together, can be beneficial in working through and preventing future mental health issues. However, there are differences between them.
The most significant difference is the skillset of a counselor versus a psychotherapist. A psychotherapist will have the skillset to counsel their patient, but vice versa may not be true.
Counseling involves working through a problem, and it can extend beyond the mental health field to include aspects such as spiritual guidance or even financial planning. A counselor offers support to an individual, while sessions are highly self-driven and directed.
Psychotherapy, however, is a long-term treatment prescribed to address problems, behaviors, mental conditions, and thought processes to reach recovery from an issue or condition. Psychotherapy’s focus is on recurrent mental or behavioral issues, and it does not extend into other areas of life like counseling.
Counseling During COVID-19
During a distressing time, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, elevated feelings of stress and anxiety are expected, but treatment options are available to manage negative feelings during this time.
For individuals unable to access in-person counseling, telehealth services have made mental health techniques more accessible. Through these services, patients can access networks of mental health professionals such as counselors to schedule virtual sessions for online counseling.
Self-guided counseling apps have also become a popular option. These use a professional resource to teach stress-managing techniques, such as breathing exercises. For those unable or uncomfortable with speaking directly to a counselor, apps allow for individuals to seek online counseling from the comfort of their homes.
Other Ways to Treat Mental Health
- Good Hygiene Maintaining good hygiene is a significant step in improving mental health. The body feels better when it is clean. The act of washing and cleaning can be relaxing, especially when extra steps are taken to turn it into a self-care experience.Hygiene is also important for the body’s overall health. From skin to teeth to internal health, hygiene is important in preventing infections and other illnesses.
- Fitness Exercise is beneficial not only for physical health but also for mental health. Regular physical activity can aid in the body’s production of “feel-good” chemicals, such as dopamine.
- Positive Eating Habits Eating a balanced diet that meets the body’s nutritional needs and keeps every aspect of the body, including the mind, working correctly. Good eating habits also prevent a variety of physical and mental illnesses.
- Regulated Sleep ScheduleLack of sleep can lead to distressing mental conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Maintaining a good sleep schedule that fits individual needs is a positive step in the direction of a healthy mental state.
- Limit Media ExposureWhile keeping up with the daily news can be important, especially as the media is focused on navigating through the COVID pandemic, too much media exposure can be unhealthy. The constant exposure to distressing news can lead to symptoms that mimic those of trauma, and so it is critical to limit the amount of daily media exposure to promote a healthy mental state.
- Focus on Positive Thoughts Positive thoughts can help alleviate anxiety throughout the day while also healthily redirecting energy.
- Set Priorities and Goals Taking the time to set priorities and goals can create order while also providing the opportunity for positive reinforcement and rewards, which can be beneficial in mental health. Setting priorities and goals can also aid the establishment of a routine.
- Maintain a Routine During the novel coronavirus pandemic, many people have become displaced from their routines. With life shifting to a virtual setting, in which professional, academic, and even personal tasks and interactions are no longer the same, maintaining a steady routine can be difficult. However, the body and mind thrive off of routine and predictability. Establishing a routine can be a fundamental step in improving mental health.