Experts say mental health impact of COVID-19 must be studied

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Two dozen medical experts say there is an “urgent” need to study mental health impacts of the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, researchers from around the world published the paper in the Lancent Psychiatry Journal warning the pandemic could have a “profound” and “pervasive” impact on mental health globally.

RELATED: Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in NC

The paper said there must be “high-quality research standards” on the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across the whole population and vulnerable groups, and on brain function, cognition, and mental health of patients with COVID-19.

“Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, might infect the brain or trigger immune responses that have additional adverse effects on brain function and mental health in patients with COVID-19,” the paper noted.

Researchers surveyed the public and found that the general population “revealed widespread concerns about the effect of social isolation or social distancing on well being; increased anxiety, depression, stress and other negative feelings; and concerns about the practical implications of the pandemic response, including financial difficulties.”

The paper said becoming physically unwell with the virus ranked “lower” than mental health issues.

CBS 17 spoke to a local professor at Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh about ways to cope with anxiety and fear of uncertainty.

“Deep breathing is the go to way for coping. Just six deep breaths can actually lower the heart rate and lower blood pressure,” said J. Dana Trent.

Trent teaches world religion. She teaches her students to refer to the ABC’s when they are feeling anxious and depressed.

“So acknowledging feelings, being present, and choosing calm…what that means is that amid all of this anxiety and fear of uncertainty, It’s important for everyone to acknowledge their feelings,” she said.

Trent said signs of anxiety are racing thoughts, increased heart rate, sweaty palms, and trouble concentrating.

“It’s especially important right now if you are struggling to reach out to those resources provided to you,” Trent said.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has two hotlines set up for anyone struggling and needing support.

The Hope4NC Helpline (1-855-587-3463)
Connects North Carolinians to additional mental health and resilience supports that help them cope and build resilience during times of crisis.

The Hope4Healers Helpline (919-226-2002)
A new initiative in partnership with the North Carolina Psychological Foundation. It provides mental health and resilience supports for health care professionals, emergency medical specialists, first responders, other staff who work in health care settings and their families throughout the state who are experiencing stress from being on the front lines of the state’s COVID-19 response.

Click here for more information and help with mental illness.

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