COVID-19 School of Medicine

How To Safeguard Mental Health As Pandemic Becomes ‘A Really Long Haul’

It was one thing to navigate the initial stress and disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic. And early on, as people looked for ways to guard mental well-being amid big changes, many realized that it helped to have a sense of horizon in sight.

“I can shelter in place for a month” and “One semester at home is manageable” were common — and useful — mindsets.

But with weeks turning into months and maybe even years of new normals, frustration and anxiety may be mounting. On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Dr. Jessi Gold of Washington University offered strategies and insights for safeguarding your mental health at this time.

Gold, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry, said that for many of her patients, the coronavirus crisis has been “a really long haul” already.

“I think at the beginning everybody was just getting adjusted, and coping was a short-term coping. And now it’s just, ‘How do I keep going, and what is that going to look like? And is this going to keep going indefinitely?’

“And [for] college students that’s, ‘Am I ever going to go back to college in person?’ And today a lot of colleges announced that they were going to be online for the fall, and I think that’s a really big change for a lot of people.”

One of the most common challenges right now, Gold said, is accepting a new normal and finding ways to live well within a lengthening period of uncertainty. One strategy for doing so involves acceptance and commitment therapy, something often associated with the recovery community.

Read more and listen.