A poll done in late April, by the Kaiser family foundation has reported that 56% of Americans have had at least one negative mental health effect related to the coronavirus outbreak and quarantine.
The number of people accumulating negative health effects is staggering. A report from Well Being Trust, a foundation that provides resources in prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental health and substance misuse issues, has stated that COVID-19 could lead to 75,000 additional deaths from alcohol, drug misuse, and suicide.
According to Sabrina Tinoco, a student living in Oakland and currently out of work because of the pandemic, her life in the pandemic has been difficult because “I’m used to being around my family and being away from them and not having those people to confide in has been difficult.”
As for different ways Tinoco has been coping with the pandemic, “I’ve been reading a lot more and walking my dog a lot.” Her response to the use of alcohol as a coping device, “honestly yes, I would say I definitely find myself drinking a glass of wine or two now more than I ever did before. Just because I am home and there’s only so much tv I can watch, I’m bored, so why not have a nightcap at 4 p.m.”
As for her outlook on the future of the pandemic, “I don’t feel like we’ll ever get back to normal, but I feel like we’ll have fewer restrictions. Even if it’s not required, I’ll always bring a mask with me in the future just to be cautious.”
Danny Chavez, a San Francisco State alum who now lives in Oakland, explained how his life has changed since the pandemic stated, “my world has pretty much shrunk. I’m home all the time, and I go out very rarely, maybe once every other week.”
Describing the effect the pandemic has had on Chavez’ mental health, “it does get to be too much but you just have to think, I’m going to be working from home for all of next year and this is my reality that I have to make it work. So, there are difficult times, but you just have to break through those. There are times where you get a bit of cabin fever, and you drink just because you’re bored, but I don’t think it’s gotten out of control.”
One connection that has been made between the interviewees in their handling of the pandemic is the use of alcohol to help get through the more challenging days. According to a report in June done by market research firm Nielsen, this seems to be a growing theme across the country as alcohol sales increased by 27% since the start of the pandemic.
World Health Officials have warned that consuming large amounts of alcohol is an “unhelpful coping strategy” during the pandemic and recommends finding alternative methods.
David Irving, Mental Health Coordinator at Chabot, stated, “There are things to be mindful of, and there are things that you could add to feel better. Be mindful of certain vices people use to help themselves feel better, like drinking or taking drugs. Just have some awareness of how much and how often you’re doing that.”
Irving continued, “Make sure you’re adding to your life things that make you feel good. Going on walks, getting out of your house, going on drives. All those things can help you get a little feeling of control.”
If you need help finding alternative methods, Chabot college is doing its best to help students struggling during COVID-19 and have plenty of resources available for those who need it.
Alongside its regular scheduled counseling appointments, the school is offering online drop-in meetings with counselors. Chabot will also soon be announcing walk-in hours for students to check in with a therapist by logging onto Cranium Cafe. Available days for sessions will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
To reach out for help today the CARES Mental Health Center is offering services online. To contact them simply email [email protected] or call at 510-723-7623 and leave a voice message. Voice messages are checked daily Monday through Thursday.