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Is COVID Good News for Mental Health? 7 Reasons


The mental health consequences of COVID have been severe. One in five UK adults is suffering some form of depression – double the pre-pandemic rate of one in ten. Nearly half are experiencing severe anxiety, and four in five are worried about the effect of the pandemic on their lives.


But in the long term, COVID’s effects on mental health may be startlingly positive. Here’s why.


1. Talking about mental health is the new normal


By forcing us to talk about mental health, COVID has shattered a long-held taboo. It’s become more acceptable to admit when you’re not coping, to talk about feelings and loneliness, and to reach out for help. Even if it’s happened because people are struggling, these are positive shifts.


2. It’s brought people together


The pandemic has united communities. On social media, what started as mutual aid groups to support the vulnerable ended up extending support and empathy to everyone involved, forging stronger connections between neighbours. Having a strong community network, so you know there are people around to provide help if you need it, is a great mental health booster in uncertain times. We need to hold on to this when the pandemic is over.


3. People can finally access mental health services remotely


Social distancing has forced mental health services to offer remote treatment options. Having to attend in-person appointments can be an insuperable barrier to someone with severe depression or anxiety; that barrier’s now been removed.


4. Mental health apps are on the rise


With most people spending more time online, there’s a boom in apps like Calm and Be Mindful, which provide guided meditations and mental health support. However, Dr Antonis Kousoulis of the Mental Health Foundation warns that there’s little scientific evidence behind these apps, and that they’re best used in combination with human support, rather than replacing it.


5. We’ve recognised the importance of early intervention


We’ve now realised that mental illnesses, like physical ones, are best addressed early, rather than waiting for them to become a crisis. That means we need to be proactive about looking at the situations where we spend most of our time and turning them into mentally healthier environments. In other words…


6. Mental health at work is now a buzzword


With 80% of businesses seeing a rise in employee requests for mental health support during the first lockdown, according to a survey by Unmind, many organisations have woken up to the challenges employees face and are offering more flexibility. Compassion and self-compassion have become hot topics at work in a way they’ve never been before.


7. Governments are stepping up


People struggling with mental illness often need support not just from individuals, but from the government. Governments around the world are realising they need to support their people’s mental health. The British government launched the Every Mind Matters campaign in April, and local governments too are providing support during the pandemic, putting helpful information online and sending out advice leaflets to help people take care of their mental health.

Posted by: Morgan Spencer