So far, the pandemic has taken the lives of nearly 100,000 British citizens. Due to covid, there has been an increase in another huge problem amongst our communities. Mental health.
We have all spent the past year in isolation, unable to see or talk to our loved ones and friends face to face. Having to already live with the fear and anxiety of catching and spreading this virus, some of us are also now living in complete loneliness, secluded from the company we are used to. We have all had our social lives completely torn away from us.
Alongside the stress of catching covid-19 and spreading, comes the added stress of loneliness, employment and income. Numerous studies conducted to describe the effects the pandemic has had on our mental health shows that the effects of the pandemic are linked to depression, stress or even suicidal thoughts amongst many of us.
Natasha, 23, from Exeter, described to me the effects that this pandemic has had on her and her loved ones. Natasha moved out of home just before the pandemic and due to fear of catching and spreading the virus, she has spent the majority of the pandemic completely isolated from her family and friends. “My friends would always describe me as a social butterfly, I’m always out and about doing something. When the first lockdown hit, I had absolutely no idea what to actually do with myself. It’s all had a huge effect on my mental health, for sure”.
Despite lockdowns and isolation being completely necessary to protect the public, there has been little look into and support of those who are completely away from their loved ones and are working from home. A recent study has shown that suicidal thoughts have increased from 8% to 10%, with the highest rise amongst young adults, climbing from 12.5% to 14%.
“The hardest part of it all I think is not actually knowing when this is going to end properly and we will all be able to press the resume button on our lives” says Natasha. She described to me that the weirdest and hardest part was losing the routine she had in her life, which to her made sense and gave ‘structure to every day’. “I came out of university, excited for this new chapter in my life. I applied to countless jobs to try and just get some sort of normality back in my life but getting responses during these times is honestly almost impossible. The ones that did reply backed out as soon as we went into yet another lockdown”.
A study conducted during the first lockdown back in March showed that 32% agreed that the lockdown and pandemic has made their mental health much worse.
When speaking with Natasha, she spoke to me regarding the negative effect the pandemic has had on her mental health. “It has definitely decreased. I have no motivation to do anything, i’m constantly alone between the same four walls, leaving the house gives me such anxiety now because I don’t do it often ad catching the virus terrifies me, having to get through it alone also gives me such fear”
There is no doubt that this pandemic and the ongoing, never ending cycle of lockdowns has had a huge negative effect on the mental health of everyone living in this crazy world right now. With the constant news and daily figures popping up on our phones and televisions, we seem to never be able to actually escape it.
I asked Natasha if throughout this year she has found any sort of possible escape from the world we live in right now. “The thing that I have found the most helpful is deleting my news apps so I’m not constantly reminded of what is happening outside right now. Going outside in my garden for some fresh air, despite it being -3 degrees has also made me feel a whole lot better. It’s little things like that, that bring my mood up”.