Nearly two years ago, the Coronavirus entered our world; the worry increased for us all and the disruptions to daily life began. We collectively experienced quarantine, economic shifts, childcare shortages, ZOOM, and changes to our daily customs. Now as we begin to reenter the world, connecting with family and friends, seeing communities heal, there are hopeful glimmers of a post-COVID world. The initial shock has settled and we have made our way through the crisis. When we experience challenges, it takes our brain time to understand the emotions resulting from an event or circumstance. The ability to cope with these emotions is different for everyone. Emotional health is something we are working to better understand and manage as we move forward from the pandemic. We at El Camino Health are here to support the community in rebuilding, with mental health as a priority.
COVID's impact on our mental wellness will be seen long after the initial spread of the virus. Symptoms of depression and anxiety have more than tripled since the pandemic began. Rates of substance use and suicidal thoughts are increasing across the lifespan. Despite mental health concerns being on the rise, more than half of adults with a mental health condition are not currently receiving treatment. This totals over 27 million people not accessing support for reasons including provider shortages, affordability, geographic access, and stigma. Some individuals have delayed seeking treatment throughout the pandemic, anticipating that they could just get through the temporary stress. However, as the pandemic continued, individuals' emotional health worsened without support.
The adoption of telehealth as the primary mode of mental health treatment created optimism for many by increasing access to therapists and reducing geographic restrictions. Over time, we have found creative ways to build therapeutic relationships over a screen. Online-based platforms have also improved the safety and security of their users. However, for some seeking mental health treatment, telehealth is not the appropriate platform. Telehealth may not provide enough support for those struggling with more severe mental health concerns. Remote platforms also may not provide the type of support an individual may be looking for. As vaccination efforts increase, a growing number of individuals are longing for in-person connections and services. In-person group treatment spaces were the first dismantled in response to COVID. Despite research identifying group treatment as a beneficial means to reducing mental health symptoms, organizations were confused about how to move forward with this essential level of care.
At El Camino Health, we remain committed to providing safe, supportive and high-quality in-person mental health services to our community. Over the last couple of years, we've helped many patients find the connection they needed and deemed essential to jumpstarting improvements in their mental health.
If you or a loved one is in need of mental and emotional support, El Camino Health has resources available. Learn more about how we are supporting our community.
Written by Nahal Zakerani, Program Coordinator, Scrivner Center for Mental Health and Addiction
This article first appeared in the February 2022 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.