THE FORGOTTEN PANDEMIC

THE+FORGOTTEN+PANDEMIC

Riley Austin, Editor

The global pandemic is an important topic to all, but in all of the chaos and calamity there has been a forgotten pandemic swept under the rug. A pandemic that has increasingly gotten worse since the start of the COVID-19 crisis: mental health.

The incline in the severity of the mental health crisis had already been incredibly prevalent before the pandemic began. According to the World Health Organization, the “bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear” caused by the pandemic, are “triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones.” We never should have let it get this far. If not for the stigma around having a mental illness and receiving treatment for it, these numbers would be much lower. Currently, one in every six kids aged 6-17 are diagnosed with a mental health disorder every year. The numbers only continue to grow as you age; suicide is the second leading cause of death between people aged 10-34. This affects such a large group of individuals but it seems like nothing is being done about it.

It is normal and completely justified that this number of people are experiencing mental health crises during the pandemic, but what is not justified is that there is little being done to stop the rise of these numbers, or to support those in need. For some, therapy and medication are a necessity for them to do mundane things, such as getting out of bed in the morning or taking care of themselves; however, during this mental health decline, this has become much harder due to isolation along with access to necessary medication and therapy.

Besides there being lack of access to treatment, there is also a stigma around this issue that makes this forgotten pandemic so much more harmful. There was already a massive stigma around mental health issues for no logical reason. This stereotype revolves around the idea that those with mental health issues are “different” from everyone else, and there is also self-stigma that leads to people avoiding treatment. There is a sort of shame around those who do receive help for their mental state. It is a lose-lose situation in which the struggler is in a revolving door of being told that something is wrong with them. Although this stigma has been slightly reduced as the newer generations grow up, it is still very damaging and effective at preventing those who need help to seek it. 

We as a society need to be better in terms of how we progress with these ideologies. These ideologies are asinine. We need to be better. If not for yourself, do it for all the people that are struggling. Do it for your friend, sibling, or neighbor that is silent about their situation and believe that they are not capable of feeling better. Do it for them. We need to work towards change because if we do not push for it, nothing will change and no one will get better. 

If you are struggling, it is not your fault. Mental illnesses and disorders are caused by many different things such as trauma, chemical imbalances, family history, grief, and so much more. There needs to be a push in our society to research the different ways mental illnesses are caused, as well as how we can benefit from actually talking about these disorders. 

Nearly 800,000 people in the world each year die because of suicide, which is about one person every forty seconds. That means that within the time it took you to read this article, three to four people took their own life. We need to do something in order to change these numbers, to make this less of a reality and more of a time in history. This is our moment. The moment of change. If we plan to push for change, we need to start today.

 

Sources:

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

(800) 273-8255

https://save.org/about-suicide/suicide-facts/

https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html