A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, to say that our mental health has felt the impact is painfully obvious and a massive understatement. “What we have endured over the past year collectively due to a pandemic is extremely stress-inducing alone,” said therapist Maddie Spear, LCSW. “Add to that other natural life stressors, such as job loss, family loss, loss of social life . . . how could we not all be mentally affected by this?”
Our mental health has also reflected the changes we’ve seen as the pandemic has gone on (and on, and on) and other issues (racial injustice, political unrest) have piled on top. “A year ago, 90 percent of my clients were suffering from anxiety,” said psychotherapist Carrie Mead, “but today I am diagnosing a mix of anxiety, depression, and trauma.” She added, “I believe the trauma from the political environment, the pandemic, lost economy, and overall fear of the future will be increasing as time goes on.”
But before we get there, let’s take this moment — roughly the one-year anniversary of what many of us experience as the “beginning” of the pandemic and its effect on our lives — to reflect on how our mental health has changed over the year and what, for those of us who are struggling, we can do about it. Ahead, mental health professionals share what they’ve seen from their patients and what we can do to cope and heal.