Relationships are taking a hit, too, during the pandemic.
Over the past 18 months or so, one thing has become very evident: The coronavirus pandemic has taken a significant toll on mental health. With continued challenges including uncertainty, and the ups and downs of opening things up only to have to enter into lockdowns again, people are stressed. They feel lonely, isolated, and anxious. Mental health professionals have full caseloads. And there is no end in sight.
Now, a survey among mental healthcare professionals shows that there will be “significant issues resulting from the pandemic” that could affect individuals for years to come. The demand for therapy has skyrocketed as a “second pandemic” of worsening mental health continues.
“Every single day there are new inquiries,” said Jacent Wamala, a marriage and family therapist in Las Vegas. “People are having to deal with the aftershock, emotionally and mentally, of what has happened.”
Some couples have faced a unique struggle as a result of the pandemic. While those who are single feel isolated during lockdown, these couple have been forced to come face-to-face with relationship issues that can no longer be avoided with longer workdays and other social outings. Nearly “75% of the professionals” in the mental health field said they spend “a significant amount of time” helping clients with family and relationship issues.
“It’s pretty difficult to find a therapist who does couples work who isn’t slammed,” said Chris Davis, a marriage and family therapist in Louisville, Kentucky. “It feels like more couples are on the brink of separating or divorcing. They’re fighting, their communication is negative, or it seems they’re just apathetic.”
Couples have overwhelming cited that the biggest challenges have been “differences in parenting style, communication, division of household chores, and spending habits.” Some couples also revealed they are “less attracted to each other with no time to miss and desire each other.”
Child health issues have also increased as a result, according to a warning from the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy earlier in December. Dr. Pooja Sharma, a clinical psychologist in Berkeley, California, said that “it might be some years before we have some sense of normalcy in mental health for children.”
Montia Brock, a professional counselor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, stressed that the pandemic “definitely amplified the problems.”
To make matters worse, telehealth has become the primary tool for therapy across the nation, but many therapists feel like the lack of in-person interaction limits the benefits of the therapeutic experience.
“An in-person office can help you slow down and provide a comfort that sometimes your home environment can’t,” counselor Christin Guretsky of Virginia said.
As the pandemic rages on, the demand for therapy is not likely to die down anytime soon. Unfortunately, therapists are already getting burned out by the challenges of an increased load.
“We’re holding other people’s emotions, their sadness, their sorrow and their stress,” said Claudia Coenen, a certified grief counselor in Hudson, New York. “I saw four people today, and that’s about my limit. I’m on the edge of burnout, and I have to step back and trust that my clients will be OK.”