Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve learned a lot about the effects COVID-19 has on physical health – what about mental health? In honor of May being Mental Health Month, we looked at how the pandemic affects mental health and what we can do about it.
What have we learned over the past year?
Enduring over a year of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lot about gaps in treatment, accessibility, and the digital divide. At the Mental Health Center of Denver, we’ve worked hard to address those gaps by bridging our services to meet people where they are.
“The biggest trend I’ve noticed during the pandemic is increased accessibility,” says Clinical Case Manager Tonoa Manuel. Because of how rapidly we adapted to using telehealth services, I can meet people where they are and provide services to them, which is HUGE. By offering services in different ways – both digital and in-person — I believe that this allows for us to better meet the needs of our communities.”
We know now that when mental health services are available both in person and through telehealth, people have better access and are more engaged. They miss fewer appointments and are more motivated to achieve their goals.
We also know that the pandemic has affected people mentally in negative ways. Many people feel compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, social isolation, and economic stress. When we see these trends towards poor well-being, creating a well-being plan or adapting the one you have can help.
Adapt your well-being plan to where you are now
A well-being plan is all the things we do to keep our well-being good. Exercising, eating nutritious food, getting enough sleep, socializing with loved ones, seeing a therapist – these things contribute to our overall health and create our well-being plan when they are put together.
The pandemic affected how we approach our individual well-being plans. Not only did the logistics of how we exercised, cooked, and spent time with people change, but the consistent trauma of living through a pandemic caused a lot of added stress. For many people, attending to their well-being felt like trying to fill a broken cup. No matter how much we try to pour into a broken cup, the liquid leaks out anyway, and faster than if the cup were whole.
“When we think about changing our well-being plan, we have to remind ourselves, ‘What used to work for me isn’t working anymore. The things I did in the past worked then, but they don’t now. So what can I do to modify my well-being plan?’ This gives me permission to change and do something different,” says Director of Clinical Services Steve Fisher.
Take some time to think about what your needs are now and how you can update your well-being plan to fit them. Your plan is personalized to you – what works for someone else may not be the right fit for you. As you adapt your plan to fit what you need now, remember to be kind to yourself . If you need support, we encourage you to check out You@YourBest for tools and tips to promote your well-being.