Written by Anna Wang
With 10,100+ mental health workers unleashed in NYC (as of Mar-28) to help residents cope with social isolation and companies around the world urging employees to mind their mental health during this period of uncertainty, clearly, Covid-19 has caused an uproar in mental health as well.
I am probably one such victim. My mood can only be described as bad to worse to devastating after I spend hours scrolling through coronavirus news and this habit has pervaded probably since Jan 24th when news of the pandemic first hit the wire in relevance to me when my company announced it will start monitoring and taking measures, that will impact MY life. Since then, what are the forms by which Coronavirus has infiltrated my work and personal life? Almost all aspects. Here’s a starter list.
- 1) January – end of February: When this was just an “Asian pandemic”, I struggled with deciding whether to go to a dear friend’s wedding in Phuket, Thailand and to cancel a trip I booked only weeks prior, to visit family in Beijing for the first week of March. This ultimately ended with me canceling the entire trip and not receiving refunds on some portions.
- 2) February and early March: increased anxiety about its impact on my job–as someone who works in finance, this had direct impacts on my portfolio companies, the liquidity in the market and my day to day job. Every day I was getting peppered with 10+ e-mails about COVID-19’s impact on all markets at work and questions that I had to produce direct analysis for. Of course, like everyone else, my analysis changed rapidly over time. Talk about predicting the uncertainty
- 3) Mid March–the real massive disruptions: WFH is announced. All my newly booked trips for March and April are canceled. Black Thursday happens (Mar-12) happens and everything tanks. Deals are on halt as we grapple with what is to come. We are just adjusting to the “new normal”
- 4) But what is this new normal? When will the “hammer” of a flattened curve start to show in our results despite 2+ weeks now of complete self-isolation and lock down all over the world? Also, more anxiety-inducing, is how long the “dance” of prolonged spread of new cases (albeit at a manageable pace) and hence the need for prolonged “social distancing” last?
My chain of reactions from the last 2.5 months is probably not dissimilar to yours. This topic has become from casual mentions in conversation to the “absolute center” of every conversation with EVERYONE–from strangers to colleagues, to friends and family. What’s worse is our heightened focus on the “problems”, the “uncertainty” around them and actual “consequences” experienced by people losing jobs, facing financial ruin and feeling the “as if in a dream” mesh of Contagion to reality, have led to many mental health issues.
The three buckets of mental health issues I have categorized are 1) Social isolation 2) Work-related anxieties (whether people are experiencing issues adjusting from WFH or have lost their jobs) and 3) anxieties due to uncertainty of COVID-19 prognosis and its impact on the economy.
I will distill down the impacts of each bucket as well as the “silver lining” we may find within each in later posts.