Navigating Mental Health During Winter Can Be Challenging with COVID Concerns

Navigating Mental Health During Winter Can Be Challenging with COVID Concerns Click to Enlarge

(KNSI) - As winter approaches, stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic can compound upon an already challenging time for many people's mental health.

Family therapist Dr. Tai Mendenhall of the University of Minnesota Medical Reserve Corps says with the fear of contracting and spreading COVID-19 can be taxing for people already experiencing anxiety or depression.

"There's going to be a lot more fear, because just about any single symptom that is pretty normal for winter, like a scratchy throat, is going to be connected to these worries on, 'Do I have COVID?'" Dr. Mendenhall said. "Those types of fears are new."

Navigating holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah might also impact people's mental health if they forego seeing family or hosting gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Mendenhall said his advice is to give yourself grace if you're depressed or anxious, seek help if you need it and know that self-care is not one-size-fits-all.

"Recognizing and giving yourself grace around mental health, mental illness, struggles like this as stuff that's real, it's important," Dr. Mendenhall said.

Attention to mental health care applies to everyone, Dr. Mendenhall said, but especially so this year for healthcare providers, teachers and other people whose jobs put them more at risk for compassion fatigue.

The Minnesota Department of Health has a mental health resource webpage with COVID-19-specific information as well as links to state and national mental health service providers.

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