The pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health around the world. The isolation, uncertainty, and stress caused by the pandemic have led to an increase in mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While it’s been a couple years, people are still dealing with the fallout – increased pressure, recessions, and job loss. Unfortunately, the mental health care system in the United States is also facing a shortage of professionals, which means that many people who need help may not be able to access it.
The Impact on Mental Health
The pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 4 in 10 adults in the United States reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic, up from 1 in 10 adults before the pandemic. Additionally, rates of substance abuse and suicidal thoughts have increased, with many people reporting feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic.
A recent survey conducted by Assurance shows that more than 70% of Americans see themselves needing increased help from a mental health professional.
The Shortage of Mental Health Professionals
Unfortunately, the increase in demand for mental health services has coincided with a shortage of mental health care professionals. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, there is a shortage of mental health care professionals in 95% of counties in the United States. Meaning there are many who would benefit from help but are not able to access it. This doesn’t even begin to address other issues like cost and how inadequate health care is a huge barrier to access as well.
Tips for Improving Mental Health
There are many factors that contribute to mental health and while you should still seek professional help when needed, there are a few things you can do that can help. We know that having a healthy gut microbiome and balanced hormones, for example, can do wonders in managing anxiety and depression symptoms.
Here are three easy tips you can implement to try and improve your mental health:
Self-care is essential for mental health. This can include things like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing.
It’s important to prioritize social connections. Make an effort to stay in touch with loved ones, even if it is just through phone calls or video chats.
Seek help when needed
Join a support group, call a helpline, take advantage of work-funded programs, or create a check-in system with a friend.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to improving mental health, practicing self-care, staying connected with loved ones, and seeking help when needed can all make a significant difference. It is important to prioritize our mental health and to advocate for increased support and funding for mental health care professionals so that everyone who needs help can access it.
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