The only pertinent topic of discussion that has circulated the news for the past two months is the Coronavirus outbreak and everything that it has come with. This respiratory virus has created a global pandemic and millions of people are under lockdown because of its rapid spread. Every day, the number of cases and deaths are steadily growing all over the world, now specifically in the United States.
Every local and national news channel is covering some sort of story at least once a day about the virus. Most states are now under a shelter-in-place order, meaning people may only leave if their job permits them to do so or for home and personal necessities. While this may be the best thing for the spreading of the virus to slow down, what is this doing to young adults’ mental health?
As of mid March, over 22 million people have filed for unemployment due to termination and having to stay at home. My mother and sister have even lost their jobs. The economy has taken a serious hit with most people having to follow the government’s orders and, in doing so, the workforce is also suffering. This leaves people stuck at home, isolated, and unable to do much about it. When isolated, those who are struggling with mental and emotional disorders may not be able to find positive ways to cope. As a college student, I have witnessed many of my classmates turning to alcohol during their isolation out of boredom, sadness, and loneliness. Also, many students are becoming anxious about having to do their schooling online, thus creating more of a desire to block out the anxiety. While not all students are drinking the days away, many are turning to illegal substances or unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with their current reality.
There are also the high school students that will not be able to graduate or participate in senior activities, which can be extremely disappointing. Many students at this age are already stressed over college admissions, moving away from home, graduating with their desired GPA, and making memories with their fellow classmates. College graduates will not be able to walk across the stage for their Bachelor’s, Master’s, or even Doctorate degrees. Being able to celebrate these accomplishments is a staple in our educational culture, and without a way to interact and celebrate with fellow peers, students and young adults are steadily having more difficulty coping. There is no set date for the end of this virus. The world has not dealt with a pandemic of this magnitude for many, many years. Anxiety can be rooted within uncertainty and since there is no clear end to this madness, many are having difficulty relaxing at home. I deal with this issue myself and have had to fill my days with a set schedule in order to be able to function.
There are many online resources for those who cannot see a psychologist or counselor in person, but not enough people are taking advantage of this. This is happening to people of all ages, and there is only so much the government can allow for personal interation in order to slow the spread of the virus. We must be proactive and reach out to family and friends alike. Let people know you are thinking of them and care about them, send a thoughtful care package, or create an online group to send positive messages to one another. The only way we can help each other is by being there for each other.