How mental health needs changed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

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For most of us, the past few months have been unlike any others in our lifetime. But how specifically has it affected our mental health and that of our friends and neighbors?

Mental Health Match has observed trends in anonymous data about people’s mental health needs during the pandemic, and those needs changed as the pandemic unfolded. Some of these trends may feel obvious, but others are surprising.

March – shock sets in
As people started living under stay-at-home orders, the most immediate needs were for people feeling shocked, uncertain, and without their usual coping mechanisms. We also saw a rise in concerns that come from living 24/7 in close quarters with family.

The mental health concerns that were searched more in March than usual included:

  • Panic
  • Recovery (for people staying sober)
  • Marriage issues
  • Parenting

April – struggling to adjust to a new normal
As people settled into the quarantine, April saw mental health needs related to the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic. People sought help for adjusting to their new lives. The lack of support and community also brought existing concerns to the surface for many.

The mental health concerns that were searched more in April than usual included:

  • Self harm & suicidality
  • Sex & pornography addiction
  • Pregnancy, birth, and infertility
  • Paranoia & fear
  • Panic
  • Parenting

May – concerns about coping mechanisms

In May, some communities started lifting stay-at-home orders, although people’s feelings of stress and anxiety remained. People using Mental Health Match sought help for behaviors they want to change, behaviors that might have become more frequent during the pandemic.

The mental health concerns that were searched more in May than usual included:

  • Drug & alcohol use
  • Food & eating
  • Hair picking / skin pulling
  • Obsessing
  • Religion & spiritual identity

While these trends indicate how people’s needs have changed month-to-month as the pandemic unfolded, there have been some consistencies throughout the past few months.

The most frequently searched needs on Mental Health Match throughout the pandemic have been:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Overwhelm

No matter what you are feeling, you are not alone. Not only are others having similar struggles, but there are trained professionals who can offer you skills and support. Use our free, confidential matching tool to find options in your community.

And if you feel like you are in crisis with an urgent need for help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255.

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