The best way to take care of your mental health during the pandemic – Health News Today

It is no surprise that times of crisis affect our well-being. People experience mental health challenges due to economic downturns, natural disasters or other collective traumas. The surge in Covid-19 cases earlier this year may explain why a federal crisis hotline experienced an 891% increase in calls in March compared to the same period last year.
To make matters worse, a critical way for us to reduce the spread of the virus is to physically distance ourselves from others — our family, friends, coworkers, and communities. This is exacerbating the already widespread problem of loneliness, which is deeply harmful to both our mental and physical health.
The tragic deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police — and the ensuing fight for racial justice — have added another layer of distress that is further compounded by the fact that African Americans and Latino Americans are three times as likely to get Covid-19 and twice as likely to die from it.

They are also more likely to have essential jobs that cannot be done from home and put them at higher risk of Covid-19 infection. As the US now sees infections and hospitalizations surging in new communities, the mental distress of it all will only continue.

Those of us who are not experiencing severe acute symptoms from the stress of the moment are still affected in other ways. We may find we are more tired than usual and more likely to lose our tempers. We may eat more junk food and find it harder to concentrate at work and school.

How can we address this wave of pain and mental stress that is washing over so many of us? To be sure, we must address the immediate challenges before us by organizing an effective response to the pandemic, providing financial help for those who are struggling and offering empathetic leadership to confront the systemic racism that has so long disfigured our country.

This time has also highlighted the urgent need to overhaul our broken mental health system, where only 43% of people who needed help received any treatment in 2017.
This means making mental health services more widely available through telemedicine and in-person visits; ensuring that insurance companies truly pay for mental health services on par with physical health services; expanding funding for suicide prevention; addressing persistent workforce shortages by training more mental health professionals; and reducing the stigma that keeps so many from seeking help.

But there is a more fundamental obstacle to our mental health and well-being that is harder to see but essential to confront. In our fast-paced, mobile, and globalized world, we have allowed one of our most treasured sources of safety, resilience, and health to weaken and fray: our relationships with one another.

Over the last five decades, the US has experienced a decline in social capital — the network of social relationships, grounded in shared values and norms, that give us a sense of community and support. We have fewer close…

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