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Mental health-related Google searches spike amid global lockdown

news,opinions | 5 min read

By now, COVID-19 has permeated almost all aspects of our lives.

This novel virus came at us with no bars held; but whilst we were busy looking the other way at policies to protect ourselves physically, setting up our home offices, and panic buying supplies, we didn’t notice a more familiar sickness begin to spread.

Not just a viral infection

COVID-19 is having a profound impact on mental health worldwide, and the evidence is appearing in more ways than one.

Since strict isolation measures were announced, mental health-related searches such as ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ have risen dramatically, causing breakout trends on Google.

COVID-19 mental health crisis is revealed in the numbers of mental health related google search spikes

Example of Google Trends graph showing a dramatic rise in searches of coronavirus mental health-related queries since 3rd of March 2020, when Italy’s lockdown began, rising throughout March as other nations followed suit.

Searches for ‘anxiety symptoms’, and queries relating to ‘mental health whilst working from home’ have seen similar rises; which comes hand-in-hand with the news that 44% of UK employers plan to furlough up to half of their workforce.

Furthermore, the US has reported an unparalleled 891% increase in calls to its national mental health helpline since social distancing measures came into force, and suicide rates are predicted to surge in the coming weeks as the UK now embarks into an extended lockdown.

If that wasn’t already enough, domestic abuse appears to be the ‘opportunistic infection’ of our time, with reports of emotional and physical abuse sky-rocketing globally.

It’s clear, we aren’t just fighting a viral infection. It’s a COVID-19 mental health crisis too.

The ripple-effect

The COVID-19 virus appears to be at the epicentre of a ripple-like effect, causing ramifications that are shaking the fabric of our society, global economy, and political systems more than we ever could have imagined.

World crisis events like these are shattering our sense of control. In our new socially isolated world, connections to our loved ones, colleagues and even wider society are being tested in ways never experienced by our generation.

With all of these compounding factors, and our essential cornerstones cracking, it’s only natural that many of us find ourselves facing a reservoir of uncertainty and challenging emotions.

Curbing the crisis

It may feel like good news is few and far between right now, but fostering resilience is human nature, sometimes we just need a little help in harnessing it.

We all have a part to play in helping one another tap into, and bolster, our resilience if we are to curb this crisis. We collectively have a responsibility to support those around us, no matter how large or small our perceived role in society is.

Our national bodies have a duty to distil support from top-down initiatives. Our employers have a duty to support the mental health of employees, furloughed or not. And as individuals, we have a duty to support not only our friends, colleagues, and loved ones, but to support ourselves too.

Actions that may seem small; clapping for our healthcare workers, telling your team they are valued, asking someone how they are really doing; all contribute to a much larger collective action that we are all part of. One that doesn’t make us feel so vulnerable anymore, but makes us empowered, resilient and most importantly, together.

The time is now

By now we are all well versed in the echo from our global health ministers that ‘the virus does not discriminate’. As we have seen, neither does it’s silent counterpart, mental ill-health.

We are teetering dangerously on the edge of a secondary, potentially far longer-lasting global health crisis. Some might say we have already entered it.

We implore you to put the mental health of your people at the forefront of your minds. How we act now, as leaders, employers, or even just as individuals, will determine the impact of this crisis for a long time to come.

If there is anything BioBeats can help to support your people through the COVID-19 mental health crisis, big or small, please reach out to us. Together, we can change lives.

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