According to disaster psychology, we’re now entering the “disillusionment phase” of the COVID-19 disaster — and that means mental health struggles are likely only going to get worse for a while.
The Washington State Department of Health explained that during a disaster, people tend to start out in initial phases of optimism, with a desire to rally together, help each other, and celebrate teamwork and community spirit.
Now, however, we have passed the “heroism” and “honeymoon” stages, and, for the next few months, will be in the phase where anxiety and depression go up, as a feeling of helplessness takes hold.
In addition to anxiety over a deadly and uncertain virus, and depression over being stuck at home without seeing loved ones or taking part in favorite activities, Dr. Albert Tsai, a psychiatrist at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, has seen some notable trends.
Struggling with mental health amidst coronavirus? Counselor offers tips
He said people who work at home may feel isolated — and those with kids, faced with being a worker, parent, and teacher all at once, can easily get overwhelmed. He said contributing to the loneliness is the fact that many places people go for comfort and support, such as community groups or religious centers, are closed for safety right now.
It’s very important, Tsai said, to take mental breathers throughout the day with exercise, yoga, or meditation. Clearing your head, moving around, and getting fresh air for a little while can do wonders.
“Learning to take a break from school or work or your