Covid-19 Related Mental Health Issues are Real

Covid19 continues to be a big part of our daily lives. If there is one thing that is certain, it is that nothing is certain about how this virus behaves or what we need to do to protect each other from infection.

First we are told masks are a waste of time, then we are told they should be de rigueur for everyone. Was the initial message intended to protect the supply from “panic buyers” for health care workers? Or was it just because the science was evolving? The former might makes sense, because the toilet paper shortages have continued, regardless of the fact that it seems that most people should have a good supply by now.

Reality is that until we have large scale testing, we really won’t know for sure how many people have been infected.

Death rates are fluid also. Should the death certificate death reflect the extreme COPD that the patient suffered before Covid delivered the final blow or is Covid the primary cause?

Dr. Deirdre Amaro’s presentation to the No Rx Abuse Coalition stressed the critical importance of accurate identifying the primary cause of death. Our physician members were grateful to better understand the value of this process, when they admitted to having been less thoughtful in the past.

“Knowledge is power” is a foundational truth. In this age of Covid19, the lack of in disputable facts creates indecision, fear and doubt in many people. Because the consequences of a wrong decision may be a true life or death event, a great deal of anxiety abounds.

In addition to physical health issues, it’s critical to understand the underlying mental health stresses created by this disease and surrounding issues. It may be easier for those living in rural areas with a low per capita infection rate to dismiss the anxiety felt by those in larger population centers.

KCHO radio interviewed a healthy 52 year old Chico man who contracted the virus. He described his frustration at lack of testing. He wept describing his fear of dying alone as he sheltered away from his family, in order to protect them. Worsening symptoms intensified his fear, but he did not share it with family-again, to protect them.

To that end, telehealth practitioner visits for mental health can be a godsend. Blue Shield reports that members turned to virtual doctor visits by the thousands – six times the typical amount during a 17-day stretch that ended April 6.

The insurer reported that 3% of visits were driven by the spike in Californians with symptoms of COVID-19, while the majority were from those seeking basic medical care or behavioral health support in the wake of the lockdown.

One immune compromised client of mine lives in San Diego and has sheltered in their home for just over 6 weeks. Working in the sciences required her to be in and out of physician offices and hospitals daily. When her employer stopped those visits, the staff was presented with some truly breathtaking information about the risks to the employees, their families and acquaintances.

Because the company has over 500 employees, there is no special leave available to them. They are expected to work remotely with their children at home full time.

They order all of their groceries by delivery and wipe down every item. Non-perishables including mail are quarantined in the garage for a minimum of 3 days. They are doing their best to “home school” the children, but without any of experience or few of the tools required. The school is providing a lot of “screen time” learning opportunity, but then the parents worry that the children are spending too much “screen time”.

Should they take a road trip away from the city to see relatives in Shasta County? What happens if the car breaks down and they are now unable to continue “social distancing”? If they go to see relatives, could they be silent carriers and risk infecting loved ones? Are loved ones silent carriers that may infect the children?

Risks are everywhere! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 235,000 people over age 15 visit emergency rooms because of injuries suffered in the bathroom, and almost 14 percent are hospitalized.

We understand the bathroom risks and make choices about how we behave. With Covid, it’s simply not that easy.

I encourage our readers to be aware of their anxieties and be proactive about getting help.

Deborah Schwing, a Bay Area therapist shares some excellent perspective:

I imagine myself in the future looking back on “the pandemic of 2020” and asking “Am I proud of what I did and how I contributed to the well-being of my loved ones, or my community?” I rely on…meditation, a positive outlook and high doses of laughter as invaluable tools…

Margaret R. Beck
Margaret Beck  CLU, ChFC, CEBS started her insurance practice in Redding in 1978. As an insurance broker/consultant,  she represents businesses and individuals as their advocate.  She assists in choosing proper products, compliance with complex benefit laws and claims issues once coverage is placed. All information in her column is provided to the best of her knowledge, subject to final regulation by the respective agencies. Questions to be answered in this column can be submitted to info@insuranceredding.com. Beck's column is also published in the Redding Record Searchlight.
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