Through this submission, I wanted to explore the powerful process of what I call metamorphosis. I wanted to explore the psychological challenges created as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the road to mental health recovery. The past couple of years, as we know, have been extremely challenging for everyone. The Covid-19 virus has made the world stand still, slowing and shutting down major businesses and institutions. During this pandemic, many people found themselves isolated, having to endure mandatory lockdowns. Studies have shown that from 2019 to 2021, the rate of diagnosis for mental health issues rose to a disturbing level. During this period, mental health professionals reported that diagnosed cases for anxiety tripled while the rate of diagnosis for depression quadrupled. Psychologists and other mental health experts credited this trend to the crippling effects of isolation brought about by the pandemic.
Fear was the main culprit, driving many people to very dark mental places. Imagine your life is going along smoothly, you’re pushing forward, then suddenly your entire world is turned upside down. Financial insecurity was another big factor in creating a high level of fear and anxiety. With extreme uncertainty and the tremendous toll on the economy, many people feared losing their jobs and their careers.
The pandemic was a worldwide tragedy, with negative mental effects experienced globally. The beginning of the pandemic seems to have had the most powerful impact on us all.
W.H.O (World Health Organization) experts stated that global mental health issues rose by more than 25 percent in 2020. In hard-hit places like Europe, young individuals were unfortunately the most vulnerable victims to mental issues triggered by the pandemic. Although experts believed young people were less likely to contract Covid-19, they were believed to be more likely to suffer from long-term negative psychological effects. Long-term mental health issues, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, have risen tremendously among young people.
Unfortunately, many of these effects on young people have become extremely tragic. According to CNBC’s Health and Science journalist Richard Mendez, the suicide rate increased tremendously among adolescents age twelve to seventeen during the height of the pandemic. Mendez stated that adolescent girls were the most vulnerable, with the suicide attempts reaching approximately fifty percent.
Other issues, like alcohol, drug dependency, and domestic violence, contributed to the problem as well. The problem of domestic violence increased for many during the lockdown. A mixture of fear, anxiety, and anger made it more difficult for those living in households already stricken with domestic violence.
When stress comes into the lives of many individuals, some turn to things like alcohol and drugs to escape their problems. During the pandemic it was reported that cases of alcoholism and drug addiction spiked tremendously. NIH (National Institute Of Health) stated that more than twenty-five percent of normal alcohol drinkers suffered from the problem of binge drinking during this time. Alcohol and drug related deaths and ER visits also rose to extremely high numbers during this period. According to healthcare site JamaNetwork, alcohol and drug related deaths rose by more than twenty-five percent during 2019 and 2020.
As tragic as it has been, the pandemic has changed us and the way we see the world. This pandemic, whether we like it or not, has strengthened us in various ways, providing us with an opportunity. I’ve always liked the phrase, “anything difficult that doesn’t kill you will generally make you stronger.”
Through various recovery programs, health guidelines, and mandates, we as a society have managed to somewhat make it to the other side of this tragic event. As a result of these challenges, we have undergone internal changes many of us don’t even see. This goes back to the topic of metamorphosis, where an event like the Covid-19 pandemic has changed us as a society. How can an individual go through such a life altering experience and not be changed? How can a person have certain freedoms and accessibilities suddenly taken away, and not appreciate those things more in the long run?
Neurosurgeons have given evidence of how change, whether good or bad, actually causes physical change to the brain (Cherry 2022). Neuroplasticity is a term which means the brain’s ability to physically transform and adapt to change. I believe dealing with never-before-seen mask mandates and enduring lockdowns constitutes change. Experts state that human exposure to new things, situations, and stimuli causes the neurotransmitters to create new pathways. So yes, you can say, in a way, the brain goes through its own state of metamorphosis.
For many individuals, the path to recovery, or what I would call, going through a metamorphosis, is an extremely difficult process. With the support of government programs like SAMSHA (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration) and assistance from local agencies like NYCwell, the journey to recovery doesn’t have to be walked alone.
If you or someone you know are in need of mental health support, please contact NYCwell:
Cherry, Kendra. “What is Neuroplasticity?” VeryWellMind 18 Feb. 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-brain-plasticity-2794886.
Merlo, Agnese et al. “Alcohol Consumption Patterns during COVID-19 Lockdown and Their Relationship with Perceived Immune Fitness and Reported COVID-19 Symptoms.” Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 9.8: 1039. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8393271/
Msherghi, Ahmed et al. “Mental Health Consequences of Lockdown During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Study.” Frontiers in Psychology 12 (Feb. 26, 2021). https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.605279/full.
“New Analysis Shows 8% Increase in U.S. Domestic Violence Incidents Following Pandemic Stay-At-Home Orders.” Council on Criminal Justice, 2022. Press release. https://counciloncj.org/new-analysis-shows-8-increase-in-u-s-domestic-violence-incidents-following-pandemic-stay-at-home-orders/
Xiang, Mi, Zhiruo Zhang, and Keisuke Kuwahara. “Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on childrens and adolescents’ lifestyle behavior longer than expected.” Progress in cardiovascular diseases vol. 63.4 (2020): 531-532. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7190470/
Robert McPherson is a videographer, editor, and writer from Brooklyn, New York. He enjoys traveling and has always been a creative person. His future goals include moving his production company forward and creating opportunities for other artists.