Challenges will affect all walks of life

Different groups face unique mental challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic

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March 19, 2020 - 10:28 AM

Different groups face unique mental challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some examples:

— Adults

Many adults may find themselves in the unexpected position of being suddenly sent home from work, without knowing how long the situation will last, if they will have a job to go back to or even if their company will survive. Business owners face the added stress of maintaining not only their livelihood but that of their employees, as well. 

Others may continue working, because they can work from home or because their job has been deemed “essential.”

Working parents also may find themselves needing to entertain or educate their children, with the closing of schools and daycare centers. 

Those are all very stressful positions, Wright said. And even after the pandemic ends, the financial fallout could last much longer.

“We live in a world where lots of bad things can happen at any time, but our mind has a wonderful way of suppressing that so we don’t think about it all the time,” Wright said. “Something like this happens and all those worries come to the forefront. Not just about coronavirus but the entire base of worry.

“Just take it one step at a time.”

— Children

Children cope best with change when they are busy, so distract them with fun activities, Wright said.

Their routines have been disrupted, so it’s best to establish new routines and find lots of creative ways to keep children busy. They may not be able to socialize as much, but they can still play outdoors. The extra time at home could give families a chance to enjoy activities such as crafts and hobbies together, playing board games or reading books.

— The elderly

Senior citizens are most at risk of serious complications from COVID-19. Health professionals recommend they avoid interaction with others as much as possible.

That kind of isolation adds to the stress and fears an older person may be experiencing right now, Wright said. You don’t want to risk exposing a loved one, friend or neighbor to illness, Wright said, so it’s important to find alternate methods of communication. Wright suggested younger people should help seniors learn how to use technology like video chat to keep in touch with family and friends. 

“Technology can help family members be a great source of support.”

— First responders

Those on the front lines — the doctors, nurses, EMS and fire crews, law enforcement, governing officials and other emergency personnel — will sacrifice long, grueling hours to help others through this crisis. They could be at greater risk of exposure to illness, plus increased levels of anxiety. 

“That’s a whole other level of stress,” Wright said.

They’ll need the support of family and friends, perhaps for much longer than the general public.

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