COVID-19 & Mental Health

By: Sydney McDonald | Managing Editor

It’s been said day after day for the last month, but the current situation that COVID-19 has brought the world into has unraveled a lot of change in people’s lives. With change and uncertainty sometimes comes anxiety, nervousness about what’s to come, and possibly many other negative feelings. Mental health is the subject of many conversations at the moment, giving advice on how to cope with the current situation and ways to help keep your spirits high. South Alabama’s branch of Active Minds is hoping to keep South’s mental health and awareness at its best during the quarantine. 

The Maxwell Mental Health Clinic offers strategies on how to control stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. ( U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)

In an article on Scientific American, Adriana Panayi speaks on the fact that suicide rates are likely to skyrocket during the COVID-19 pandemic, and sadly, they have. Brandon Raines, the president of Active Minds at South, is taking this time to use his position to keep his community active in learning and dealing with mental health. 

“We are going through something so unprecedented and chaotic and it’s impacting every person on the planet, and sadly, I don’t think this thing is going away anytime soon and the worries and anxieties we are all facing right now can really destroy our mental health,” Raines said. “The uncertainty of our lives at this moment can quickly allow us to fall into a dark place. The next issue we could face is a mental health pandemic if we do not heal from those places. In order to be healthy, we must take care of our brains- it’s even proven that higher stress can leave you more vulnerable to illness. In order to take care of our bodies, we must start with our minds.”

Active Minds has made a complete online transition, holding all meetings through Zoom for members to discuss any current personal difficulties, and have become extremely active on social media hoping to keep all followers engaged and reminding them to check in with themselves daily. As someone who struggles with mental health issues, Raines makes it a priority to help coach others in practices that help him cope healthily. 

“Personally, I’ve struggled with anxiety the most since this outbreak. Not so much due to the virus- but more because of the rapid change we have all encountered. It can be difficult to adjust to change such as transitioning all classes online. It was a lot at once, but I know I am not alone in that and that brings me comfort,” Raines said. “Combat the negative thoughts. When we allow our minds to become filled with negative, scary thoughts, we can fall into depression quickly. Simply choosing to try to reason with those dark thoughts can make a difference.”

If you are currently struggling with any aspects of this shutdown, or just in general, Active Minds is still taking members and having meetings to find ways to help and prevent these issues. If you are interested in joining follow Active Minds on any of their social media to find out how to join. Also, if you are currently struggling with mental illness, please do not hesitate to contact any of the helplines below. 

-USA Counseling & Testing Services: 251-460-7051

-USA Psychological Clinic: 251-460-7149

-Crisis Text Line: TEXT “HOME” to 741741

-National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

-LGBTQIA+ The Trevor Project 24-hour Hotline: 1-866-488-7386