BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Throughout the pandemic, experts say mental distress has been on the rise and with the disruptions far from over, they’re sharing their research to help those suffering.

From isolation to fear and anxiety- the COVID-19 pandemic is really affecting some people’s mental health.

We are observing that individuals without a history of mental health conditions are experiencing high levels of mental distress which has important implications for the mental health service system,” said Dr. Johannes Thru, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In a survey conducted in early April, nearly 14 percent of adults reported having serious mental distress, compared to less than four percent in 2018- the highest numbers coming from people ages 18-29.

“This is somewhat surprising. It may be that older adults have better coping mechanisms in place and the younger adults have felt more dramatic changes to their daily lives as a result of the pandemic,” said Dr. Elizabeth A. Stuart, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Less surprising, is those experiencing financial strain are also feeling more mental distress.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health held the virtual briefing to discuss the impact the pandemic is having on mental health.

“In part, it is important again because there are interventions they can grow out of this knowledge,” Dr. Stuart said.

Interventions such as telehealth visits, which have become more widespread during the pandemic. Experts also say exercise, safe social interaction and maintaining a routine can help with mental distress, but people should avoid alcohol and drug use.

“Substance abuse is related to more mental stress and shouldn’t be used as a coping strategy,” Dr. Stuart said.

When it comes to using social media, it’s recommended limiting your usage to certain activities.

“Such as interacting with friends and family rather that passively scrolling through your news feed and taking in information,” Dr. Thru said.

Sean Streicher

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