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  • Jenna French, News Editor

‘You’re not alone’: Mental health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

By: Jenna French, news editor

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the world, emerging studies have indicated an increase in feelings of depression or anxiety among global populations — it’s important to know that you’re not alone.

From social distancing tactics to mask mandates, many are having trouble coping with these changes, which can be stressful and overwhelming. According to an April survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.,(CDC) and the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of adults with symptoms associated with anxiety or depression has increased from 36.4% to 41.5% from August 2020 to February 2021. These increases were largest amongst adults between the ages of 18 and 29.

“It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the CDC said in a statement on their website.

All of my life, I have struggled with my mental health — especially anxiety — that was unfortunately heightened by the coronavirus pandemic. In all honesty, the beginning of the pandemic was really rough.

When I first heard of the spread of the virus, I didn't know what to think or expect. At first, I wasn’t worried about it, because I thought that it would never spread to the United States, and other countries around the world would soon figure out some way to stop the spread.

Of course, this prediction was wrong, and within months, it was soon outside my doorstep. I struggled to cope with this and felt intense feelings of anxiety.

From left to right, I saw the world I once knew rapidly changing around me. Before I knew it, cases were growing in Buffalo, and within a short period of time, I found myself unemployed while I finished my sophomore year online.

Each day felt like a battle. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning and I found it troublesome to concentrate on anything.

Thoughts swarmed my head: I constantly asked myself — what if? I wondered what would happen if my family contracted COVID-19. I wondered if they would survive if they did. I wondered if I would get it while I was at the grocery store picking up essential items for my family. I wondered if the world would ever return to normalcy again.

Constantly, I worried, and with time, this anxiety brought on depression. My world was so different: instead of going to school, work or seeing my family and friends, I was trapped in my room while I struggled to get through the semester.

Once the semester came to a close, and I was able to see a select few of my friends again, my mental health started to improve. Despite the improvement in my mental health, I recognized that I needed to do something, so I started being more open with my parents about it, which helped immensely. Slowly, I started to leave my room more to take walks outside at the beach, while I spent more time with my family. I started to reach out to my friends more and for hours we would talk over FaceTime.

I am doing a lot better now, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t still feel anxious all the time. From this experience, I truly learned the importance of staying connected with family and friends during these challenging times. I advise anyone who is struggling with mental health issues to reach out to someone and just talk. All it takes is a conversation and time to slowly heal.

Dealing with mental health isn’t easy — especially amidst a global pandemic — but there is hope.

“While the pandemic has undeniably caused extraordinary stress and sadness, research on human resilience suggests that people will recover from the trauma of the pandemic faster than many believe,” psychiatrist Dr. Richard A. Friedman said in an article published in The New York Times.

“And while certain groups may need mental health care for the longer term, it’s also true that humans’ ability to overcome adversity is often underestimated and that an overwhelming majority of people who suffer trauma will not develop mental illness but eventually feel better.”

If you’re dealing with overwhelming feelings of anxiety or depression, please reach out to someone and take that first step.

At Canisius, there is an abundance of resources available, so make sure to reach out to Canisius’s Counseling Center at (716) 888-3218. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at (800) 273-8255.

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