All across the world, as education continues for countless college students, the burden of quarantine weighs heavily. Personally, I’ve been quarantined three different times for 14 days each. This amounts to 42 total days that I have spent in isolation in just a few short months. It’s clear that quarantining is an effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19, but what effect does it have on mental health?
COVID-19 spread like wildfire, creating a global pandemic affecting more than 200 countries and, as of December 2020, claiming the lives of 1.6 million people. In addition to causing health and medical challenges, the pandemic had a profound effect on people’s financial, mental, and emotional well-being.
Notable evidence suggests the value of socialization in maintaining good mental well-being. Isolation can be detrimental to our mental health. According to one study, “Mental health issues like anxiety, depression, post‑traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are some of the mental illnesses that are on rise ever since the COVID‑19 pandemic started which needs immediate attention.”
People who suffer from mental illnesses are often instructed to socialize as a part of therapy. However, in order to contain COVID-19, most countries are endorsing policies of quarantine, social distancing, and isolation.
Being isolated from society, on top of the fear of transmitting COVID-19 to loved ones, can lead to an increased risk of developing PTSD and suffering long-term mental health effects. Risk factors that make someone more prone to developing PTSD from COVID-19 include self-quarantine, self-isolation, fear of death, social discrimination, and witnessing others becoming sick and dying.
From a mental health perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic has been exceedingly challenging. Facing immense uncertainty and stress, those with pre-existing mental illnesses are vulnerable to worsening conditions. Even for those without pre-existing conditions, the likelihood of developing a mental illness is high.
Although social distancing measures are beneficial for slowing the spread of COVID-19, this burden comes at a cost to everyone’s mental health. So, make decisions carefully and choose your encounters thoughtfully. Your choices affect others’ mental health and well-being.
Meet the Author
Chloe Spoden is a Mancur Olson Research Fellow at the NDSU Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise. She is an undergraduate studying human development and family science at North Dakota State University.