For individuals managing a mental disorder, any slight change—environmental, physical or otherwise—can feel overwhelming. Having daily routines creates a sense of predictability and reduces risk factors that often contribute to depression and anxiety. Mental disorder management is challenging and in the midst of a global pandemic, can feel impossible.
Below are some considerations and thoughts on how to handle a mental disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Self-awareness and tuning into emotions is a critical aspect of mental disorder identification and treatment. Individuals struggling with a mental disorder are more inclined to experience bouts of depression, isolation, anxiety, and loneliness. Being able to recognize emotions, and even triggers for certain emotions, can assist with care management. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic as many individuals are finding themselves more isolated than ever before.
Managing a mental disorder requires a strong support system, which typically includes in-person counseling sessions coupled with family and personal interactions.While Kinder in the Keys continues to operate at full capacity, many critical healthcare services have transformed and become limited in some areas since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in mid-March. So how does someone managing a mental disorder navigate the ‘new normal’ without becoming overwhelmed?
Creating New Connections
Traditional healthcare services and interactions have dramatically changed and had to innovate in the era of COVID-19. As the saying goes, every challenge presents an opportunity for ingenuity. For those struggling with their mental health, today’s environment means rethinking care management.
A traditional care management team involves healthcare workers, family, and friends. Having a mix of personal and professional services creates a framework of support rooted in healing and love. Social distance restrictions naturally put a strain on relationship intimacy—both emotionally and physically—making it hard to offer support in typical ways. There are barriers to touchpoints like embracing and hand-holding, which require creativity to overcome.
Learning and Growing Through Technology
While the country may feel more disconnected than ever due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, in many ways, we are becoming more connected. Thanks to technology, individuals are able to see, speak, and support each other remotely. While there is certainly no replacement for a two-minute hug from your best friend of 20 years or a stand-in for a rambunctious 4-year-old grandson, there is power in imagery.
More than ever before, individuals are engaging in technology for learning and personal growth. This extends to those managing a mental disorder as experiences that previously felt out of reach are now available on their personal devices. Examples include cooking lessons, art classes, college courses and tours of museums. The same goes for social interactions with family and friends, with opportunities for online games, book clubs, and more. New access to fitness routines of all levels, many with free extended trials, can offer an outlet.
While no one is contesting a stand-in for the healing that comes from physical touch and in-person connectivity, there are alternatives available during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through self-awareness and redefining care management teams, individuals can create a foundation to sustain the pandemic. The ultimate goal: to reunite with counselors, family and friends. For now, those managing a mental disorder should know they are never alone and that resources to help bridge the gap are just a click away.