Let’s face it; the past few years have challenged everyone’s mental health. Pandemic mental health-related trends reveal significant systemic challenges–and opportunities– affecting human well-being.
While there was a growing epidemic of depression and anxiety before the pandemic, like so many other layers of social cohesion and normalcy, COVID-19 exposed and exacerbated fractures in the foundation of the human psyche.
According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a “wake-up call to all countries to step up mental health services and support.” While post-pandemic mental health trends indicate a growing malaise, the good news is that we are beginning to heed the call.
Let’s explore the impact of the recent pandemic and the new perspective on mental health arising in its wake.
Assessing Post-Pandemic Mental Health
Generally speaking, our mental health took a hit in 2020. According to WHO data, there was a 25% increase in the prevalence of depression and anxiety globally during the first year of the pandemic.
Even people not exhibiting clinical symptoms of mental distress felt the shock of months of isolation, disruption, and uncertainty. In an already stressed-out society, the multiple strains of the pandemic became encapsulated in the phrase “the new normal.”
The feeling of losing control and disorientation left many “teetering slightly closer to their breaking point,” writes Olga Khazan in The Atlantic. In her article Why People Are Acting So Weird, Khazan explores how an undercurrent of “rage, frustration, and stress” loosened our social bonds and triggered aggressive behavior.
In addition to the outward coarseness of social interaction, millions of people suffer quietly from depression, substance abuse, or other mental health ailments.
Not an Island
We are social animals. No person is an island.
While some of us thrive on being alone, the idealization of the rugged loner–devoid of any meaningful human connection or contact–is largely a myth. Human survival is contingent on social interaction, cooperation, and empathy. Even the most introverted reclusive among us need the stabilizing influence of at least a minimum of human contact.
It is a lesson we all learned at once. Suddenly, social gatherings ceased, our interactions were mediated through screens, and, dare we go outside, we kept our distance, hiding behind masks.
It was all too much to keep to ourselves. Mental health concerns moved from a dark secret held in the recesses of our inner life to a shared experience.
Mental Health Awakening: Awareness, Acceptance, and Technology
Many of us can point to a specific day in March 2020 when our lives changed–literally overnight.
While it took more than a single day, the mental and emotional consequences of the pandemic helped destigmatize mental distress. Too many people were suddenly faced with thoughts, feelings, and circumstances they were unprepared to manage.
For many, muddling through became untenable. The shared experience opened up more conversations about our mental and emotional well-being. “How are you today?” became “How are you coping today?” Awareness of the pandemic led to acceptance, motivating more people to seek help.
If the worst of the pandemic is behind us, its consequences persist two years on. More people than ever seek professional mental health guidance.
Increased Demand for Mental Health Counseling
“Mental health has become somewhat of a buzzword over the past two years,” writes Sofia Ousglia in Very Well Health. “But it isn’t all just talk. More people are finding the professional help they need. Or, at the very least, receiving support from their community.”
According to Mental Health America, 5,441,125 people took a mental health screen in 2021. For context, this is a nearly 500% rise from 2019 and 103% higher than 2020.
Technology Meets Demand
Like many other web and mobile technologies, telehealth began making inroads before 2020. Nonetheless, most mental health counseling was in-person, one-on-one (or in groups), interacting in time and space. COVID-19 suspended us in an isolated online ether, clearing a path for telehealth mental services.
According to Forbes, telehealth accounted for only 6% of chronic condition management and 5% of primary care sessions prior to the pandemic. The pandemic launched, peaking at 41% and 45%, respectively, in 2020. McKinsey reports a 38-fold increase in telehealth services from pre-pandemic levels.
These numbers reflect opportunities and a new perspective on discussing and caring for our mental health. Talk of mental health isn’t as taboo as it once was. Ongoing improvements in the management and delivery expand the reach and effectiveness of online services mental health services.
Helping people struggling with a mental health disorder or just trying to cope in a troublesome world is a noble calling. One takeaway in this post-pandemic perspective is the need for more professionals motivated to the task.
Helping People Cope: A Career in Psychology
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology and Social Work at Northern Michigan University Global Campus lays the groundwork for various careers, including mental health counseling, social work, teaching, substance abuse counseling, and more.
Graduates can also continue their education with a Master of Social Work degree, either on-campus or online through NMU Global Campus.
The rigorous, industry-aligned program is taught by experienced professionals, guiding students in a fundamental exploration of psychology and human behavior.
Based on eligibility, financial aid is available through grants, loans, and scholarships. Students can transfer up to 90 units.
The 120-credit BS in Psychology curriculum comprises a required psychology core and breadth areas in psychology. Additionally, there are two concentrations: Interdisciplinary Psychology and Mental Health/Pre-Clinical Psychology. The program includes professional internship opportunities.
Among the topics students study include:
- An introduction to psychology
- Psychology research methodologies
- Social psychology
- Learning and cognition
- The brain and behavior
- Abnormal psychology
- Ethics and practice of clinical psychology
The pandemic and all the stressors of modern life might make us all a little crazy from time to time. With a degree in psychology, you’ll have the foundation to help people cope, recover, and thrive.
If you need mental health assistance, visit Therapy Assistance Online.