Mindful Messages about Mental Health

By Linda Cheung and Fiona O’Reilly

COVID-19 has afflicted a lot of damage to many countries and communities all around the world. However, the pandemic’s effects are not limited to consequences like economic recessions, record numbers of infections, and deaths, but mental health as well. Time away from family and friends has enforced stress, sadness, and feelings of loneliness onto many people. Experts have noticed a rise in mental health symptoms and conditions throughout the course of this pandemic, including symptoms of psychiatric disorders such as major depressive and anxiety disorders.

Source by Olivia Wong

The added stress of the pandemic has taken a toll on students' mental health. At the same time as attempting to minimize COVID-19 cases, there is a mental health crisis on the rise.

According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 40.9% of participants ages 18 years or older in a survey reported at least one symptom of a mental or behavioral health condition during the dates of April through June 2020.

School psychologist Ms. Annunziata reports an increase in students visiting her office.

“This pandemic has definitely caused an increase in everyone’s stress and anxiety levels,” said Ms. Annunziata.

Social worker Dr. Sanzone-Goodrich addressed concerns related to the pandemic including feelings of isolation, withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities, feelings of anxiety, and/or depression as well as self-harming behavior or thoughts.

Source from Dr. Sanzone-Goodrich

Dr. Sanzone-Goodrich, New Hyde Park Memorial's social worker, talks about the rise in the number of students coming into her office seeking guidance and support.

During these difficult times, it is important to remember many people are in the same boat, experiencing similar thoughts and feelings.

“It’s okay to feel this way, and know you are not alone. It is so important that we all take the time to take care of ourselves and talk to an adult when we feel overwhelmed,” said Ms. Annunziata.

In essence, caring for one's body can help ease anxiety and other emotions, as well as promote healthy behaviors, such as exercise, a balanced diet, and proper amounts of sleep. In addition to having good physical health, emotional health is also essential. Spending time with loved ones and participating in relaxing and enjoyable activities are important to achieve a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

Dr. Sanzone-Goodrich also noted the importance of researching appropriate, scholarly websites for information and coping strategies. It is common for people of all ages to be faced with feelings of anxiety during such a stressful time, but it is also important to understand that mental health challenges can be treated with healthy routines and practices, such as good coping skills. Upperclassmen are notorious for having an increasing quantity of school work, which causes stress. This year, upperclassmen have to deal with the increasing quantity of schoolwork as well as the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Try to space your work out so you don’t have to do it all at once…if you need a mental break, take one,” said senior Jack Vasquez.

Some other coping strategies for anxiety may include mindfulness or meditation, as well as talking to a trusted adult or mental health professional on feelings or thoughts you may have. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important now more than ever to practice self-care and other exercises to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

If you or a family member are experiencing mental health issues and need someone to reach out to, the Nassau County Mobile Crisis Team consists of licensed professional social workers and nurses. To access the Mobile Crisis Team call 227-TALK (227-8255).