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The importance of mental health in the COVID-19 pandemic

The importance of mental health in the COVID-19 pandemic

The importance of mental health in the COVID-19 pandemic
March 22
12:00 2022

Content Warning: This article contains language and content related to suicide and mental health, viewer discretion is advised.

There was a time when mental health was not a major concern to society. As humans, we are taught to hide our emotions and appear as if an event in our lives is not severe enough to affect the well-being of our mental state, no matter how altering or traumatic.

Identifying as a Nigerian, people within my community can admit that mental health is not as discussed as it should be. The fear of not being able to achieve something due to problems that aren’t physical, like a cold, essentially means those problems do not exist.

Mental health is important because it is a direct result of mood, anxiety and stress. However, mental health has detrimental and even deadly consequences when not as prioritized as it should be. COVID-19 caused the entire world to recognize the importance of how we think, feel and act upon situations.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the idea of a deadly plague spreading across the planet was a shock to many. For those suffering from mental health prior to the pandemic, emotions heightened due to prolonged isolation. The ability to be in the company of anyone was seized, as schools across the nation were remote for the then-foreseeable future.

The extreme conditions took the life of a young girl I went to high school with. She was an involved, bright and bubbly student that could not deal with the restrictions. Her mental health ultimately diminished which soon led to her passing. Both children and adults who may have not suffered from mental health concerns prior to the pandemic became victims of the drastic changes, resulting in overwhelming amounts of stress, emotions and social welfare distress. 

Recommendations of staying indoors were placed when COVID-19 began to become more widespread. This meant interactions between people were limited to phone use and online platforms. While many turned to social media platforms such as TikTok to pass time, others turned their time on the app into a brutal playground. More than half the percent of people between the ages of 15-25 increased their usage of TikTok during COVID-19, according to a study by Statista.

Social media apps have gained even more popularity due to the need for digital interaction. Trauma has been transformed into connection, and creativity and short videos were created to share trends, life hacks and relatable content. 

In contrast, these popularized apps have allowed for hurtful interactions and judgment. The pandemic encouraged the addictive use of social media to form, and bullying became more evident on these platforms. Not only did this hurt the individuals being bullied, but also perpetuated the attackers who took part in the interaction. However, both parties are dealing with the consequences of being in lockdown. Addictive habits that are formed during isolation take a toll on both children and adults. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists coping mechanisms to deal with restraints like self-isolation and quarantining: taking care of the body, disconnecting from phones and laptops and creating time to unwind— all of which give the brain a break. If you or anyone you know is struggling to cope with stress, I recommend that you reach out to someone you can confide in. 

It is important that mental health is cared for within all cultures, ages, genders and identifications. Now that the pandemic has forced everyone to make mental health a priority, the efforts should be recognized. It is a regular consideration since the earth caused us to slow down and consider the importance of the ways we interact with one another.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Voke Onoriose

Voke Onoriose

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