Tag Archives: isolation

Mental Health and Loneliness Epidemic in America

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After months of living life in a unique way, it’s hard to quantify what the lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will be regarding the American psyche. While several states have begun phasing into reopening businesses, life is hardly back to normal for people from every walk of life, including millions of members of the addiction and mental health recovery community.

If you have been following the endless COVID-19 news cycle, then you are aware that many of the states which made attempts to return to a semblance of life before the pandemic have reaped severe consequences.

The result of such actions – despite stimulating our economy – led to a dramatic surge in new cases and subsequent coronavirus related deaths. The Southwest and western states have been particularly impacted. Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California have all seen spikes in new cases in recent weeks.

While it’s challenging to predict what’s to follow in the coming days and months, most Americans will likely need to continue practicing social distancing and following stay at home orders. Experts continue to argue that the above actions are essential in slowing the spread of the virus.

With tens of millions of Americans still out of work, 2,442,395 people who’ve tested positive, and 123,092 coronavirus-related deaths, it stands to reason that we will all continue to contend with life in isolation. In previous articles, we’ve discussed the repercussions of prolonged separation from other humans. We’ve also talked about how loneliness can take a toll on people in recovery who depend on support networks for maintaining their program.

Loneliness Epidemic During a Public Health Pandemic

Many of you might find it hard to believe that, according to the most recent census, 35.7 million Americans live alone. Such individuals do not have the benefit of sheltering in place with friends and family members. Naturally, mental health experts have severe concerns about the stress caused by prolonged social distancing. Such professionals are particularly concerned about members of society with pre-existing mental health conditions.

A cohort of physicians from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School believe we could witness a significant spike in suicides in the near future, TIME reports. The doctors published an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine that pandemic-related isolation, stress, and a surge in firearm sales could exacerbate the decade-long suicide epidemic in America.

It’s worth noting that the United States was already contending with a loneliness epidemic long before COVID-19 arrived in America. A recent report from Cigna suggested that around 60 percent of American adults felt some degree of loneliness before the pandemic. Moreover, about 25 percent of women and 30 percent of men said they felt coronavirus-related loneliness, according to a SocialPro survey.

Loneliness, says Dr. Carla Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is “the subjective feeling of isolation.” While loneliness is not a mental health disorder listed in the official diagnostic manual for mental health disorders (DSM-), it usually goes hand in hand with many disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder.

This is a huge topic, but it’s been kind of sidelined,” Perissinotto says. “Now everyone is forced to look at this in a different way. We can’t keep ignoring this.”

People in Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Must Reach Out

Individuals who contend with mental health or addiction or both cannot ignore the toll that prolonged isolation has on their well-being. There are online resources available for attending mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, but virtual attendance may not be enough for some people.

If you are struggling with life in isolation or feel that it’s causing mental illness symptoms to emerge or worsen, please make a concerted effort to keep in close contact with your peers. Those living in isolation may also be feeling the urge to use drugs and alcohol to cope. However, acting on the urge to use will only make your current situation worse.

A relapse will make it far harder to weather the pandemic storm and could have disastrous consequences during these troubling times. Accessing therapeutic treatments and professional help is perhaps more challenging than ever. If you find yourself battling the desire to use, then you must contact your sponsor and other peers immediately to prevent a worst-case scenario from arising.

Mental Health and Addiction Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we fully understand how trying life is of late and that many Americans are living in isolation while contending with mental illness and active addiction. The professional team at PACE specializes in treating men who are in the grips of mental health disorders and alcohol or substance use disorder.

Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one get on the path to lasting recovery. Our team is available around the clock, and we are still accepting new patients. Please call us today at 800-526-1851.

Mental Health Awareness Month 2020: Coping With Isolation

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“This Too Shall Pass” and “You Are Not Alone” are familiar phrases to members of the addiction and mental health recovery community. It’s fair to say that we’re living in a time when such mantras are more valuable than ever owing to the pandemic.

We are wise to remember that no matter how bleak the societal forecast looks, we shall overcome this public health crisis eventually. Such words may offer little solace to millions of Americans, but we have to hold on to hope and maintain a positive attitude. Remembering that we are all in this together can help to that end. While we may be ordered to stay at home and shelter in place, keeping in mind that you are not alone is beneficial.

COVID-19 is impacting everyone’s life, and the spread continues, as does the rising death toll. Those most vulnerable to the effects of isolation – those living with addiction and mental health disorders – are facing significant adversity.

Isolation begets loneliness; people in early and long-term recovery struggle dealing with both seclusion and sadness. Fellowship is what makes 12 Step recovery so effective for abstaining from drugs and alcohol and making progress in every sector of one’s life. No longer being physically connected to your support network can wreak havoc on your program, provided you don’t take precautions.

Warding off the sadness that accompanies feeling alone does not come easy for those in early addiction recovery. It takes time to develop coping mechanisms for contending with the discomfort that comes from hardship. Adopting healthy coping skills begins in treatment, but they are strengthened when you put them into practice in real-world situations. A pandemic is the severest example of a real-world situation.

Coping With Mental Health Symptoms in the Face of Fear and Isolation

Fear is one of the driving factors behind both use disorder and mental health symptoms. With 1,084,983 infected Americans and the death of 63,686 of our loved ones, it’s right to feel afraid. The fact that the death toll in less than three months is higher than that of all the Americans who died while serving in Vietnam, 58,220, over two decades is cause for concern.

Public health experts assure us that we can stave off contracting and transmitting the virus by following the CDC and WHO guidelines. Some of those include wearing face masks and latex gloves (Personal Protective Equipment) while in public. The more challenging recommendations are sheltering in place and self-quarantining (if you have or have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19). Adhering to the advice of the world’s leading health professionals should reduce some of your fears about contracting the coronavirus.

People living with mental illness or are in addiction recovery depend on connection with others. It’s critical that you continue attending your support groups and therapy sessions via teleconferencing and video conferencing. Call, facetime, or skype with people in your support network every day of the week, particularly if you are harboring negative thoughts.

Negativity can lead to ideations of self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors. If acted upon, you could slide backward in your recovery, lose progress, and potentially relapse. You can avoid all the above unfortunate byproducts of negative thoughts by digitally linking up with your friends and family.

The goal is to prevent fear, isolation, and loneliness from being the impetus for relapse or a resurgence of mental illness symptoms. Throughout the day, try to remind yourself that you are not alone, and this too shall pass.

Mental Health Awareness Month 2020

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April was Stress Awareness Month and May is Mental Health Awareness Month; both observances could not have come at a better time. For the one in five Americans living with a mental health disorder, support is needed now more than ever. The same is especially true for the one in 25 adults who contend with a severe mental illness.

It is worth reiterating how vital it is to stay connected with each other and show support for the 47.6 million Americans dealing with conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar, and post-traumatic stress disorder. More than half of our fellow members of the addiction recovery community also have a co-occurring mental health disorder.

It’s fitting that the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month is “You Are Not Alone.” This month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will feature personal stories from people living with mental health conditions.

If you would like to share your story and help people feel less alone during these isolating times, then you can submit your story here. Your experience may brighten the lives of others who may be struggling to cope with our new normal. NAMI writes:

NAMI’s “You are Not Alone” campaign features the lived experience of people affected by mental illness to fight stigma, inspire others, and educate the broader public. Now more than ever before, it is important for the mental health community to come together and show the world that no one should ever feel alone. The campaign builds connection and increases awareness with the digital tools that make connection possible during a climate of physical distancing. Even in times of uncertainty, the NAMI community is always here, reminding everyone that you are not alone.

Mental Health Treatment for Adult Men

If you or an adult male you love is struggling with a mental illness, then please reach out to PACE Recovery Center. Our gender-specific facility specializes in treating men battling addiction or mental health disorders. Our team of physicians, doctorate-level clinicians, and master-level therapists help men get on the road to lasting recovery.

We want to share with you that our dedicated staff is taking every precaution to safeguard the health of our clients. If you would like to learn more about the COVID-19 response at PACE, then please click here.

Our thoughts, prayers, and sincerest condolences are with the millions of families who have lost loved ones to the coronavirus. We are hopeful that all the infected make a fast recovery.

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