We asked Toronto psychotherapist Faith about the effects that the pandemic has had on our mental health. Throughout the pandemic, there has been an increase (56%) in young adults from ages 18-24 reporting symptoms of anxiety and/or a depressive disorder according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. We wanted to ask Faith what she has personally seen in terms of changes in mental health with Covid-19:
“Some people do better staying at home such as people with social anxiety. They feel less stressed out as they don’t have to commute to work and are able to spend more time with their family.
On the other hand, some people are feeling isolated and there has been an increase in higher depressive symptoms as they are trapped in their own home. You see a lot of anxiety around Covid with the fact of not knowing when this is going to end. Some people are feeling germophobic and there has been an increase with hypochondria as people are jumping to conclusions when they are feeling a little bit sick. There can also be anxiety around loved ones getting sick.”
There has also been an increase in screen time throughout the pandemic as we have had to convert work, school, and socializing into virtual methods such as Zoom. We asked Toronto psychotherapist Faith if this increase in screen time has caused an increase in declining mental health:
“An association in the literature that shows that increased screen time has decreased psychological well being.
The teenage population has been strongly impacted by this because of the amount of social media that they use. That opens the door to comparing yourself to other people, body dysmorphia, and social anxiety which negatively impacts the teenage population. The more time people spend on social media the more people complain about back pain or headaches which can impact mental health. People are losing sleep because they are constantly addicted to their phones. Constantly working from home can cause burnout with 8 hours on the screen, as well as screen anxiety as people are constantly seeing themselves on the screen. It is common to feel exhausted and experience anxiety by constantly checking your phone for emails.”
We asked Toronto psychotherapist Faith what homework she gives to those who are struggling with these changes (lifestyle, relationships, financial)?
“It really depends on the client, although I try not to give them too much homework. I do an assessment of how change is affecting them, both negatively or positively. Then we try to set goals together (SMART goals).
Based on those, we break down the goal into smaller achievable steps that the client feels that they can do. If the goal seems unattainable, I create a ladder with the client and look at what step one would look like. Throughout the week they can see how these steps go for them. Some people just need basic time management skills so I get them to pull out their calendar and plan their week.
With lifestyle changes I check in with self care. A big change in one’s life can cause feelings of grief or loss. It’s important to make sure they’re taking care of themselves and reaching out to loved ones.”