In Depth: The effects coronavirus pandemic has on our mental health

Segment A: Mental health - Grief 

Hal interviews three guests in the mental health field. Dr. Manuel Saintmartin, a clinical psychiatrist, Dr. Sheri Meyers and Dr. Lynn Ianna, both licensed marriage and family therapists.

They discuss the nature of grief brought on by this pandemic and the lockdown, and how the grief is greater than just that of those who people may have lost to the disease, but also a collective grief for the loss of expectations. People are mourning the loss of a future where they knew what to expect and was predictable. They can be traumatized by the uncertainty created by not knowing what will happen next.  People don't have the means to protect themselves and their loved ones.

They are also grieving the situations they have lost, all the celebrations, graduations and vacations that have been destroyed- so it is a cumulative feeling of loss.

Segment B: Mental health - Fear

All three of our guests discuss the fear that is engendered by the pandemic and lockdown. One of the questions is what will happen to us next, after the lockdown is over, after the pandemic is over, and the fear and uncertainty is likely to continue even after the concern over the outbreak is over.

Dr. Saintmartin says part of the problem is that people aren't able to use their usual coping mechanisms, whether that is going to the gym or getting together with friends to help handle their anxieties. Also it is harder for someone who needs help to find a therapist when they can only do that on-line.

He also says part of the stress on people is that there are so many sources of information these days and many of them are not reliable or factual, so people don't know what to believe.

People are also vulnerable to Obsessive Compulsive disorder that might be triggered by the epidemic.

Segment C: Mental health - Relationships 

Recent statistics show that the epidemic and the confinement has led to an increase in intimate partner violence and child abuse. The doctors say that the increase in stress is causing some people to act out against their closest family members to relieve that stress.  

The doctors suggest that the best tactic is to make a point of stopping, and doing the opposite of what your emotions may be telling you at the moment.  Meyers suggests that the first thing to do is to take care of yourself, so that you can  dissipate your stress.   
Ianna says to remember that there are things we have gained from this isolation - including a possibility for new intimacy with family members as well as a chance for personal growth.

Dr. Saintmartin says there are still resources for those with serious mental health issues, and suggests that it is important to reach out to people, even if it is on the phone or on line, to avoid emotional isolation.

Segment D: Staying positive 

Hal discusses the resources we have to get us through this crisis:  love and compassion.

We share a video created by  Kristin Marion of Big Bite productions showing some of the positive acts by local people that are inspiring people through this epidemic.