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The Pandemic vs. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: the impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health

At the beginning of this year, most of us were blissfully unaware of COVID-19. Since then, lives have turned upside down due to the introduction of this disease and the onslaught of a worldwide pandemic1.

"We are facing a global health crisis, unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations — one that is killing people, spreading human suffering, and upending people's lives. But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human, economic, and social crisis."

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Outside of contracting the virus, the COVID-19 outbreak affects every individual. Whether it is worrying about job security and finances, experiencing social isolation, feeling insecure in housing, managing reduced health care access, or juggling schooling - every life is affected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than two in five Americans are struggling with mental or behavioral health issues due to the pandemic, including; anxiety, depression, substance use, and suicidal thoughts. Plus, it's not just adults that are facing mental health problems. Statistics from the CDC also show that compared with 2019, the number of mental health-related visits to the Emergency Department (ED) for children has increased significantly. ED visits for children aged 5–11 have risen by 24%, and for children aged 12–17 years by 31% 2. Researchers discuss that the mental health concerns seen in children might be exacerbated by stress related to the pandemic. The abrupt disruptions to daily life, anxiety about illness, social isolation, and interrupted connectedness to school are all thought to be some of the main reasons for an increase in children’s mental health concerns.2.

In this uncertain time, mental health problems are growing in prevalence, and those who already have mental health concerns are finding that symptoms may worsen under the pandemic strain.

What Mental Health Stresses are people facing due to COVID-19?

Jonathan Ugalde, Licensed Professional Counsellor - Executive Director of Operations and Finance & Therapist at Calming Wind Counseling Services, discusses the challenges people currently face. "I believe that we, as a community, are facing traumatic stress. The pandemic has caused us to feel isolated from our families and friends, become even more concerned for our health and safety, and worried about the security of our finances and housing. We have found a lot of our community facing the dif