By TROY HUTCHISON
Since the start of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the virus has affected lives not only by people getting sick, death and restrictions, but also has affected mental health.
Mental health is one of those topics that many don’t like to discuss and overlook to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. However, it is one we must talk about, one that we need to illuminate.
When we started to live with restrictions, that meant that in-person classes and meetings we were accustomed to went to being taught online or done in some form of a virtual meeting through companies like Zoom.
At first, kids and people loved the idea of staying in and doing their work from the comfort of their own homes without having to go anywhere to get things done. But, over time, that can start to wear on people, especially those who are highly social.
Not having that social interaction can cause someone to start developing depression and can cause those now to feel uncomfortable in crowds or at gatherings after being used to being alone for so long.
In Tucson, the majority of students and people have started to go back to a regular work schedule, so they are in the process of getting back to normal.
However, before the pandemic in 2019, there were about 1,500 Arizonans that committed suicide, according to an article published by AZCentral.com. The study focused on the concerns of seeing that number grow post-COVID-19. Another study by the 2019 Arizona State Health Assessment showed that the rate of suicide in the state is higher than the national average.
Numbers from 2020 and 2021 were not yet available.
The effects of being in your room on a computer screen away from the rest of the world can cause issues to one’s mental health, including depression.
Another way it can affect someone is by heightening their anxiety levels when being in a large group. When you have someone that is more of an introvert and you force them to stay excluded for a number of months, that can cause social skills issues.
Once you put that person back into a large setting, however, they struggle to function based on the lack of use of those social skills during the months of working from home. Anxiety is just one of many mental health issues that we need to focus on and help those that need it.
Lastly, when you are young, you go to elementary and middle school not only to learn but to help develop your social skills.
Not going through the process of working with others and developing your social skills at that age could cause issues down the line as a result of COVID-19 and the restrictions that were needed at the time.
How can we help people going through these issues? It’s quite simple: We talk about it. We have those conversations with one another. As a society, we must stop looking at mental health as taboo. We should be more open to these issues so that we can help those suffering.