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Mental Health Expectations in a Post(?)-Pandemic World


Jan. 4, 2023 Psychology Today

For most people, the pandemic changed many aspects of everyday life. From the way we shop and entertain ourselves to the way we work and have meetings; how often we are in the physical workspace or meet up with friends; or even how we celebrate holidays or birthdays, nearly everyone has experienced some sort of adjustment. As the saying goes, “We are not all in the same boat, but we are all going through the same storm.”

The storm metaphor captures the fact that not everyone experienced COVID-19 in the same way: Some have endured greater stressful life events than others, such as losses of loved ones or employment. Whether the pandemic only temporarily inconvenienced your life or you’re continuing to endure adverse experiences, COVID-19 has led to some level of stress for individuals across the globe. 

How can we assess whether the weight of our stress regarding those varying experiences is bearable? Are individuals continuing with the same level of mental health as they were pre-pandemic? The World Health Organization reported a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide due to the pandemic. If you are a practitioner, how can you help your clients learn more about their thoughts and behaviors during and after COVID-19? 

What Types of Assessment Can We Use?

The COVID Stress Scales (CSS) have been developed to guide in the identification of those that may suffer from COVID Stress Syndrome (Taylor et al., 2020). COVID Stress Syndrome (Taylor et al., 2020), includes 5 domains of assessment:

  1. High emotionality regarding the health dangers of the virus and contamination (i.e., becoming infected or being able to seek treatment if infected; contamination of objects, money, or surfaces).
  2. Worries about socio-economic consequences (i.e., stores running out of food).
  3. Xenophobia (i.e., fear of foreigners who may be spreading the virus).
  4. Traumatic stress symptoms (i.e., nightmares and physical symptoms).
  5. Compulsive checking (i.e., repetitive online activity, reassurance seeking from medical professionals, etc.).
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