Grace Jordan, Campus Carrier arts & living editor
The last six months have been very tumultuous, dealing with a global pandemic has caused the majority of Americans immense stress. Mental health has worsened due to the isolating nature of the pandemic and the financial insecurity that comes with it. Most americans have lost the right to choose because of the pandemic.
Psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, from the University of Rochester, theorized that there are three fundamental psychological needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness. Autonomy is the need to make your own decisions; competence is the need to do tasks well; relatedness is the need to connect with others.
Associate Professor of Psychology, Victor Bissonnette states that during quarantine there is little way to achieve these three needs. Bissonnette says there is no autonomy because humans have no control over the situation and humans are not competent when it comes to dealing with this.
“This is new for all of us,” Bissonnette said. “So we are all going to be stressed in solving problems and getting along with each other.”
Bissonnette also states that the need of relatedness varies case by case. Most people have been isolated in some capacity for months due to this pandemic, but not all have been isolating in the same capacity. Some are able to isolate with people they are compatible with, therefore their needs are met to a greater degree compared to someone who has to isolate with people they don’t get along with, or people who have no one to isolate with.
Susan Conradsen, associate professor of psychology, also points out the danger of COVID-19, and the subsequent isolation, on mental health.
“Prolonged isolation can have pretty profound effects on our mental health and overall wellbeing,” Conradsen said.
Cases of depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide have all increased. These cases are not only due to isolation, but the financial strain and fear that countless Americans are facing. A study conducted by Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reported that when compared to the second quarter of 2019 depressive disorder had quadrupled and symptoms of anxiety disorder had tripled. Suicide idealation doubled from 2018 and one in ten people communicated that they began to abuse substances or their substance abuse worsened.
Grace Taylor, junior and nursing student, has been personally affected by COVID-19 and the sequential isolation. Taylor says at first school kept her busy and held her focus, but when May came around and the school year ended she saw a noticeable difference in her mental health.
“Until May it was all about school and then summer hit and it was kind of like ‘what’s next?’” Taylor said. “Of course, you can’t see anybody from school, you didn’t get any closure at spring break, and you can’t see your friends from home because there’s a pandemic.”
She talks about how her anxiety worsened due to her being isolated. She was alone most of the day, citing that she only left her room to eat, and therefore had ample time to let her mind wander, leading to anxious thoughts.
“I think, definitely, not having people to talk to made it flair,” Taylor said. “Just feeling very ‘nobody cares about me’ ‘nobody knows that I’m here’ and then overthinking spikes my anxiety and then I get anxious about being anxious, “And then you add in being worried about the pandemic in general and not knowing what life is going to look like two months down the road.”
In a global pandemic such as this, humans are not able to attain the three needs that are essential for a happier life. COVID-19 has shown that even in today’s age, where technology is teeming with life and abundance, humans still need the physical presence of people to feel fulfilled and happy.