COLUMBUS — Nearly 20,000 Ohioans have died and more than one million have been infected by COVID-19, but the health impacts of the pandemic go beyond death and illness.
In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, about one in three Ohio adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Dr. Ashley Solomon, Cincinnati-based clinical psychologist and founder of Galia Collaborative, a women’s mental-health practice, said some research suggests mental-health impacts of the past year could linger for the next decade.
But she added most mental-health conditions are treatable with the right resources, which often involving therapy, medications or a combination of both.
“There’s really little to lose in seeking out treatment,” Solomon asserted. “It can make a substantive difference in the way that you feel, your quality of life, your relationships, how you’re performing in work or school. There’s good resources out there that can really make a big difference.”
She noted affordability and access to mental-health care are still a challenge for some people, with and without private insurance. However, local county boards of mental health offer resources, and the national nonprofit Open Path Collective helps connect patients with providers who offer low-fee services on a sliding scale.
Solomon pointed out symptoms you or someone you know is struggling mentally include sustained feelings of sadness, fear or anger; lack of motivation or satisfaction with things that previously brought us happiness; and unexplained physical issues such as headaches, poor sleep or chronic pain.
“Things like feeling a lack of energy or fatigue. Not feeling as hungry,” Solomon outlined. “Oftentimes, people really can’t put things into words, and they just will describe feeling like, ‘I don’t feel like myself and I can’t seem to get out of it.’”
Solomon added it’s encouraging conversations around the importance of mental-health care are becoming more common.
“The stigma with reaching out for mental-health care is, fortunately, really shifting in a positive direction and this is really an ideal time to invest in our own mental health and wellbeing,” Solomon concluded.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found 13% of respondents started or increased substance abuse during the pandemic.
Solomon stressed it’s crucial to cope with stress in positive ways to preserve mental health. Experts recommend taking a break from the news and social media, setting aside time to unwind with quiet activities such as mediation or reading, getting more exercise and connecting with others who can provide support.
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