Covid-19 pandemic takes added toll on those with mental illness: 'We're suffering some real stuff'

Covid-19 pandemic takes added toll on those with mental illness: 'We're suffering some real stuff'
Posted on Oct 12 2020
CNN Health

The Covid-19 pandemic has been somewhat unique in that the crisis has continued for an extended period. Such moments of uncertainty can take a significant toll on those already facing mental health challenges. "Any loss of social support can have a meaningful impact on people with mental illness," said Katherine Ponte, founder of the online peer support community ForLikeMinds and lives with bipolar 1 disorder (NAMI Blog writer and NAMI-NYC Board member). During the last week of March, Ponte and researchers at Yale University School of Medicine conducted an online survey that included 193 people who self-identified as living with a mental illness. The survey, published in Psychiatric Services, found that most of those living with a mental illness (98%) said they had at least one major concern related to the Covid-19 pandemic. "I definitely feared that my mental illness would get worse," she said. "In the past, my manic episodes have been triggered by world tragedies." Ponte also emphasized that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In response to trauma, some people can experience what is called "tragic optimism," which occurs when someone remains hopeful and builds resilience. These responses can culminate in what is referred to as post-traumatic growth. Ponte said that her hope for the nation is growth after trauma.