The current COVID19 pandemic is on everybody’s mind and it’s hard to escape it with media and social platforms talking of little else. However, another illness is spreading throughout the USA; mental health is struggling within every state and just like the virus, it does not discriminate.
A study recently conducted by RTT has shown that online searches for mental health-related terms have grown substantially in 2020, compared to last year, the full results can be seen here: rtt.com/coping-with-covid-19. These terms were broad with anything from users looking for local services that are still running, to seeking how to become a therapist to help loved ones, but they all contained a recurring theme, the rise in the diminishing state of mental health.
How Are People Helping One Another?
There is no shame in having a mental health problem, especially with the year we have all experienced. However, one of the most prevalent results of the search was how so many people are currently searching for steps to become a professional therapist. A huge message the world has been advocating during the pandemic is standing together and helping each other.
While specific reasons as to why these search terms have increased are not provided, we can speculate. Firstly, witnessing a loved one struggling with their mental health can be hard and knowing what to do and say can be even trickier as we want to make sure nothing can be made worse.
While it takes years of studying and exams to be fully qualified, online courses for becoming a therapist are increasingly popular and can provide some great, reputable resources to aid family members in helping their loved ones.
Another reason as to why these searches have increased is due to career changes. This could be due to job loss or the pandemic providing a platform for many to reflect on their lives and what they way to do.
Many could be making the change for a profession in therapy to give a sense of purpose in their working life, something we all seek but COVID19 has provided some perspective on our lives.
Why Has Online Therapy Searches Increased?
The sudden change in normal activity thanks to COVID19 has been a shock to the system for many and the long-term mental health impacts are still to be revealed.
Laws and regulations differ depending on the state, however, the common element across the entire nation is to reduce physical contact with others and remain at home as much as possible.
This has led to ordinary therapy sessions being placed on hold for the time being to follow social distancing guidelines.
This is why more are turning to alternative methods for help. Online sessions via video chat are a newly popular therapy method, this removes any risks of spreading the virus, while also allowing patients to see the best professional for them, no matter where they are located.
Another popular search term was for mental health apps, such as Headspace and Calm. These apps are not new to the market but their users have increased by almost 100% within the last 12 months.
While these apps should not be considered an alternative to therapy, they are providing a short-term solution to those who are unable to obtain professional help at this time. They allow the user to practice mindfulness and maintain a sense of routine, even during a very uncertain period of their life.
Many health care professionals recommend these apps alongside their own sessions, to allow patients to continue working on their mental health in between meetings with their therapist.
How Is The Pandemic Affecting Mental Health?
There are a myriad of reasons as to why mental health is being affected in 2020. The economy is not at the best place, record numbers of redundancies and unemployment have led to financial turmoil across the country.
It has been found that those in debt are more likely to attempt suicide than those who aren’t and many people are experiencing a sudden problem with their income that could not have been predicted.
Another impact of the pandemic on mental health is loneliness and social isolation, which has been said to be as bad for physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Especially for those with no friends or family close by, the closure of social activities, such as sports, teamed with the lack of social interaction with colleagues is causing high numbers of people to suffer.
Even those who aren’t lonely or experiencing financial difficulties are being impacted with the uncertainty. Even with vaccines now being proven effective, there is no definite answer as to when we can return to ‘normal’. This is leading to more anxiety, stress and depression within the public.
We have no way of knowing exactly how mental health will be impacted in the long-term, but staying on top of it in the short term can make a world of difference. If you are struggling or know someone who is, reach out for help as soon as possible. The sooner support can be provided, the smaller the risk to long-term mental health issues.