The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects–i.e., home isolation protocols, lockdowns and shutdowns, economic recession, and massive layoff–has affected almost everyone’s mental health to a varying degree. However, people who are already suffering from it and those struggling with substance abuse are, particularly at an increased risk.
Last year, about four out of ten adults in the US reported symptoms of depression and anxiety, a significant jump from the 10% of respondents who reported having these mental health issues in 2019.
Inadvertent Effect of the Pandemic
While COVID-19 has brought a lot of pain and suffering, with some of us losing friends, family members, and loved ones, it has one inadvertent blessing: It has normalized mental health since people have now realized that with this pandemic–especially the economic recession and the health risks that come with it–no one is immune to depression and anxiety.
Before the pandemic, many people asked, “what IF I experience a mental health issue” instead of a more accurate question of “WHEN and HOW will I experience it.” But with COVID, many of us have now realized that it all differs from person to person and how it affects our quality of life, our dreams, and our relationships with others.
Normalizing Mental Health Issue Through Digital Media
As a mental health advocate who has first-hand experience with this topic, my stance is to make it everyone’s issue and an “everyday conversation” to reduce the stigma that comes with it.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has not only made people think that mental health affects everyone but has also created a new healthcare trend: The widespread use of teleconsultation, which is now generally covered by insurance providers.
Telehealth has also made healthcare more accessible for people struggling with anxiety, depression, and other similar issues. With this digital platform, we can meet them where they’re at and provide them access to care and treatment in the comfort of their home.
Ignorance and Discrimination
Access to care and treatments for mental health issues remains a challenge because they are seen as less important than physical health problems. This misconception is a huge disservice and even a form of discrimination against people suffering from anxiety disorders, depression, addictive behaviors, and other similar conditions.
What surprises me is that health insurers have this propensity to deny coverage, which is a human rights issue. To make things worse, the broken insurance system makes it difficult or even impossible for many people to access primary care and treatment.
While some states like California have laws that make it easy to access quality behavioral health care, not everyone has access to this critical treatment.
Spreading Awareness through Digital Media
As a documentary filmmaker and storyteller, I focus on showing stories of people experiencing schizophrenia, psychosis, and other mental health issues. It is also my goal to create content that will reach people organically, leading them to reputable resources and hotlines.
I am also grateful for being a member of the US Department of Health and Human Services Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee and working with people who have ground-level experiences like family members and caregivers of people battling mental illnesses. With this kind of diversified representation, we can develop a policy change that is helpful and authentic.
Watch my participation HERE: https://www.calltomindnow.org/rethinkingmentalhealthcare