Corona mental vis

Opinion columnist Hattie Friesen discusses the potential for further mental health and domestic abuse challenges in the case of another COVID-19 lockdown.

Opinion

Gut-wrenching infection rates show only a portion of the devastating battle against the coronavirus. Also requiring attention and aid are Americans struggling with mental health and abuse related to the pandemic.

Sore throat, fever, nausea and headaches — these are some of the symptoms of COVID-19. However, other widespread consequences of the rampant virus strike many more people than just the infected.

The coronavirus pandemic has added new fuel to the growing number of Americans showing signs of clinical anxiety and depression. For many, waking up in the morning has become a daily battle.

Studies have linked COVID-19 to a rise in depression among adolescents. For young people with pre-existing depression, the loss of school, sports, social interaction and other regular activities has reportedly increased symptoms and worsened the effects of the disorder.

But teenagers aren’t the only victims of this phenomenon.

A survey conducted in May shows that 34 out of every 100 Americans display signs of anxiety, depression or both. While mental health disorders have been steadily rising, this is a startling jump by comparison.

It has always been important to take care of one’s emotional well-being, but actively paying attention to signs of depression and anxiety in oneself needs to become a daily habit.

In this time, the extreme amounts of stress generated from a volatile pandemic makes monitoring one’s emotional health a priority.

In addition to mental disorders, domestic and child abuse appears to be on the rise.

During times of natural disaster and crisis, intimate partner violence has been known to escalate. For example, reports of partner strangulation in 2018 surpassed the previous year by July, a rise which has been linked to Hurricane Harvey.

With millions of Americans self-isolating or limiting their time away from home, opportunities for domestic abuse are more likely to occur. Add the stress of a pandemic to the vulnerable situation and those prone to outbursts are even more likely to be violent toward their partners.

Children are also at risk of experiencing abuse at home. With schools shut down and extended periods of time being spent at home, families spending more time together may not be such a good thing for everyone.

With at least 1 in 7 children already experiencing some form of abuse or neglect in the last year, those numbers are likely to grow since higher stress levels in parents is a known predictor of potential child abuse.

With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases growing daily, the reopening of states may be slowed or even reversed. Early re-openings combined with the lack of early action means a second shutdown is a feasible possibility in the near future.

So, what can we do to battle the abuse and rising mental disorders spurred from the stress of quarantine if a second shutdown does occur?

To start, more television and radio ads need to be aired with hotlines for domestic and child abuse. More online and telephone therapy needs to be made accessible and affordable.

When the whole country is hurting in more ways than one, reaching out in alternative and innovative ways needs to become the new normal.

Keeping an eye out for yourself and your neighbors is necessary with climbing threats of depression, anxiety, domestic violence and child abuse.

Although the economic strain, overcrowded hospitals and COVID-19-related deaths are all terrifying consequences of the current pandemic, it’s important not to ignore those suffering behind the scenes.

Hattie Friesen is a freshman from Olathe studying English and linguistics.