During the COVID-19 pandemic, even the normal sources of comfort during a crisis can cause anxiety. That’s one of the findings in a wide-ranging study of the pandemic’s emotional toll done by researchers at the University of California – Davis.
People typically find comfort in getting or providing help from friends and neighbors during natural disasters such as hurricanes. But the researchers found that during the pandemic, those interactions sometimes can heighten stress and anxiety.
More broadly, the study found that the COVID-19 crisis has severely affected some peoples’ emotional stability and mental health. Those negative effects are being amplified as financial strains and the fear of getting the virus linger.
The stress people perceive during a prolonged pandemic also makes them less resilient. That reduced resilience was even more pronounced among people with low levels of education and those who speak English as a second language.
To establish their findings, the researchers surveyed about 400 people online during a 10-week period beginning in April. The participants were asked about perceived stress, their resilience, prior disaster experiences and their demographics. Two-thirds of the study participants reported moderate to high levels of stress.
While increased stress can be expected at a time like this, there are steps that can be taken to ease the pain. The research team called for a comprehensive government response to address long-term mental health and emotional needs of individuals and communities. Not only could this improve lives, it would serve as a reminder that we’re all in this together.