COVID-19 and mental health are a dual crisis 1 year into the pandemic in Michigan

Written by: Andrew Feather
Read the original article on WWMT

More than 600,000 people in Michigan have been infected and almost 16,000 people have died since Michigan reported its first two cases of COVID-19 March 10, 2020.

While the visible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been staggering, mental health experts say it has caused a dual crisis with some unseen effects.

“I’ve seen just a really significant increase in anxiety, depression,” Bridget Nolan, a psychologist with Child and Family Psychological Services in Kalamazoo, said.

She said during the pandemic the number of people seeking help with their mental well being has skyrocketed, leaving professionals booked up.

“Most of the ones that I know are really full, they’re trying their best to help people,” Nolan said.

The mental health impacts of the pandemic are far-reaching, impacting people across demographic lines.

“My anxiety has definitely gone up,” Wes Nichols, a Kalamazoo resident, said.

Nichols job as general manager of the AMC movie theater in Kalamazoo was a casualty of the pandemic on the entertainment industry. The theater closed permanently in November.

“I spent my entire adult life working towards the job that I got and then to lose it so quickly was disappointing,” Nichols said.

Nolan said loss, in all forms, was driving the unseen effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve seen a lot of grief and a lot of loss for people whether it’s related to death or the loss of normalcy,” Nolan said. “Loss comes in many different forms. Death is the primary loss that we think of but this year has shown us that there are many levels of loss for people.”

Nichols said despite his tough year he’s trying to focus on the positives.

He was married in 2020 and, recently, all of his grandparents had became vaccinated. He’s also avoided the loss of any close loved ones from COVID-19.

“At the end of the day you can’t change what you don’t have control over,” Nichols said. “It’s all about your mindset.”

He said he was choosing to look at the uncertainty as an opportunity, including enrolling at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and working to find positivity in even the darkest times.

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