Doctors Provide Support for Pandemic-Related Mental Health Issues
By Brynne Herzfeld
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas — Health concerns across the state are improving with the distribution of vaccines, but the mental health effects of pandemic-related isolation can’t be treated with a shot.
Isolation affects many people and in different ways.
UT neuroscience student Sarah Stofel said she was more organized and motivated before the pandemic. Isolation has changed that.
“I was a dramatically different student than I am now. For me personally, I’ve lost the end goal because it feels like we’ve just been in this period for so long,” Stofel said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report in early April that showed a significant increase in anxiety and depression symptoms among adults between August 2020 and February 2021. The largest increase was among adults between 18 and 29 years old.
Kelsey Lammy, the mental health program coordinator at the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, said the CMHC is coming up with ways to facilitate social connections because of the negative effects isolation can have on a person’s well-being.
“In this pandemic, it can be really hard to connect with others, and connecting with others via technology might look and feel differently than being in the same physical space with someone,” Lammy said.
“Something we’re trying to do is think about ways that we can encourage folks to connect and find social connections, even if that means social distancing.”
The mental health clinic at Dell Children’s Medical Center has been at full capacity for several months.
Janie Black, a child and adolescent psychologist, said children are also feeling the mental health effects of isolation.
“Suicidal ideation is way up,” Black said.
“What are they being hit with by the news? All the deaths, images of people dying. That’s never going to go away.”
Despite uncertainties about how different a post-pandemic future will be, Stofel looks forward to a return to in-person classes and a time where she can spend time with her friends again.
“If I feel alone in a class or feel like I’m the only person struggling, it really affects how I do in that class,” she said.
“The thought of it returning to normal makes me very happy, even though we don’t really know what normal is.”