Worrying Mental Health Signs to Watch for as COVID Continues

Even with a growth mindset, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on millions of lives. Outside of concerns around catching the virus, the pandemic has brought many businesses – including freelance businesses – to their knees. For some industries, customers dried up overnight as lockdowns continued. Unsurprisingly, this is not just affecting the bottom line, but a looming mental health crisis. In response, a psychologist named the worrying mental health signs to watch for as the pandemic continues.

A November 2020 study by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) found that 64% of entrepreneurs report having low energy as a result of the pandemic. Nearly two in five (39%) say they feel depressed at least once per week. The survey also found that women are more likely to feel depressed (51%). This is even as 64% of all survey respondents say they are adjusting to a COVID-19 context. 

The BDC provides loans and other financial services to business owners. It is wading into the mental health space, said Annie Marsolais, the chief marketing officer at BDC, because of a commitment the organization made to raise awareness of mental health issues. 

“By examining this topic and collaborating with experts and partners we can help break the stigma associated with mental health issues, ensure business owners feel more at ease discussing it, and know where to turn for help,” said Marsolais in a press release. 

While many things might cause entrepreneurs worry during a pandemic, it boils down to money. 43% said they worry about generating enough revenue to make a profit, the biggest concern noted in the survey. The second biggest concern is that 40% worry about covering expenses.

Worrying mental health signs to watch for

Part of BDC’s work also involved an advisory committee of mental health specialists. According to Dr. Poundja, a psychologist at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, these are the signs entrepreneurs – and family members – should watch out for:

The more or less problem: Changes to your normal eating or sleeping patterns (either eating / sleeping significantly more or significantly less). 

Alcohol and drugs: Increased drinking or drug consumption could be a symptom of something deeper (though the holidays usually come with more drinking at events, that should be limited this year due to COVID. This increases the risk of drinking / taking drugs alone). 

Withdrawal from relationships: This will look very different in 2020 than in previous years. Withdrawal is not just about not showing up. It’s also about not trying to make contact in the (digital) ways that are available. 

Difficulty functioning in daily tasks: Yes, COVID lockdown work sucks. Take stock of the challenges you face and check if they are only caused by the lockdown. While that’s worrying enough, you should be extra careful if the issues can’t be explained solely by lockdowns. 

Overthinking about what could go wrong: If you’re spending all your time thinking about horrible things that could happen, you’re taking away mental energy from getting things done (or enjoying your time). This is a red flag that something deeper may be going on. 

Coping with stress

There’s more than one way to handle stress. While seeking professional help may be helpful, entrepreneurs frequently tried other mental health first aid tactics. In the survey, the most common methods of coping with stress were walking (47%), exercising (41%) or talking to someone (29%).

Read Next: Unconventional (But Useful) Ways to Stay Calm When Working From Home

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