Mental health and wellbeing have become increasingly important. With the sheer connectedness and speed of today, caring for your mental health is not just a treat but an act of survival. Add in the ongoing campaigns designed to help destigmatize mental health so that more people can feel comfortable with receiving help and the critical importance of mental health and psychological care compounds.
COVID-19 has also drastically impacted the mental health and highlighted many health inequalities in the US and around the world. A report out of the UK discovered that 69% of adults polled reported feeling worried about how COVID-19 was affecting and has affected their lives. Worrying about the future, feeling anxious, and being bored were the top three reasons behind these issues.
Though cases of high levels of anxiety and depression fell during lockdown lifting, it is important to note that young people were hit the hardest and that their rates of anxiety and depression remained some of the highest rates even as we move forward from the pandemic.
Those at greatest risk of poor mental health were those in lower-income homes, those with pre-existing mental health conditions, those who live with children, and those who live in cities.
If mental health and psychological care were important before, they have become a matter of public interest today. Moving forward from the pandemic should not solely focus on the economic aspects but also on the human elements.
Social isolation, job, and financial loss, financial insecurity, housing insecurity, a loss of coping mechanisms, reduced access to mental health and wellness services, and of course, unhealthy or dangerous home conditions have all taken their toll, and to recover properly from the pandemic mental health must be put at the forefront of consideration.
Psychological services and mental health care are imperative for the quality of life of individuals and also for the recovery of society as a whole. Strategies necessary to facilitate this mental health recovery need to come from multiple locations, from professional to personal.
Professional Mental Health Services
Access to mental health services is one of the key issues that exacerbated the mental health crisis we saw during the lockdown. Not only did more people need mental health services, but they also had to adjust to a fully digital approach. This does have its good points, however. Telehealth gained massive traction during the pandemic, giving greater access to health services for those who live in rural areas and for busy professionals and parents who might have found it difficult to keep mental health appointments and make time for the commute to the clinic.
Online services mean a greater number of people have easier access to mental health services, but there is still a limit. Therapists and psychiatrists can only take on so many clients and patients at once. There are also so many hours in the day. Safeguarding those in the professional mental health community is also imperative, as they too need support and care in order to continually provide the best quality of service.
To improve these professional mental health services, we need to:
Increase Mental Health Workers
Improving opportunities, training, and investment within the mental health industry will encourage more students to pursue their interest in psychology and to pursue a BS in psychology online, which will work to help a new generation of psychologists adopt various psychological principles to suit a diverse range of clients, to distinguish etiologies and treatments for normative and non-normative behavior, to design and execute research to answer psychological questions, and more.
An increase in psychologists, particularly from a diverse background, will help improve mental health services and discourse as a whole.
Improve Resources and Their Access
While working one-on-one with a therapist provides the most customized results, it is not the only option forward. Offering professional quality resources, from guides to even online CBT self-training, can help those who are currently waiting for support or are unable to access mental health professional support for any reason. The key is to provide professional-grade tools to help people help themselves and advertise these tools so that a greater number of people can start to help themselves at home.
Resources also need to be made to offer support for those leaving dangerous situations. Leaving a toxic or abusive relationship is dangerous and offering the support for more people to move on from these situations can improve mental health throughout society.
Improve Access for Lower Income Groups
More mental health services need to be included with every insurance policy. Mental health support improves a person’s quality of life, their outlook, and their productivity. Looking from an economic standpoint, offering greater access to mental health resources, especially to lower-income groups who traditionally have less access, can improve productivity and help more people break the cycles of poverty.
Personal Health Care Improvements
Mental health is not solely about the professional services you have access to. Just as your health is your main responsibility, despite the fact that there are doctors and hospitals, so too is your mental health your responsibility. Professional services are there to help you when you yourself cannot.
A greater emphasis on connecting with your passions and hobbies, reducing time on social media, spending more time with nature, and finding that essential balance are all activities that individuals should take on as well.
Just as therapy works best when it is personalized and offered in a one-to-one situation (or in a specific group therapy), you will also need to find the right, personalized approach to improving your own mental health. A good way to look at and understand your own personal responsibility is by looking at the difference between wellbeing and mental health.
Wellbeing is well within your control. Improving your wellbeing improves your state of being and state of mind. That being said, improving your wellbeing won’t help if you have mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, manic thoughts, chronic stress, and so on. By knowing the difference, you can take control over your life and know precisely when to seek out mental health services.