UVA professor: mental toll of COVID-19 pandemic causing stress injuries

The mental toll of the COVID-19 pandemic causes stress injuries, according to UVA professor

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The COVID-19 pandemic is hurting people mentally as well as physically, according to University of Virginia School of Nursing Professor Richard Westphal. He says, without realizing it, a number of people may be suffering from stress injuries.

Westphal says a stress injury happens when the demands of everyday life exceed the resources available for coping. In an extreme situation like the coronavirus pandemic, that means when its harder to find basics such as food, toilet paper, and even stable internet, it takes a mental toll. Stress injures can impact healthcare workers, as well as anyone else right now.

“Typically, what happens in a stress injury is there’s a change in behavior,” said Westphal. “Maybe somebody is more irritable, or someone who’s normally really talkative and joking gets very quiet.”

Those symptoms can indicate a stress injury, but they could also indicate depression or anxiety. Right now, mental health experts say anyone can feel the pressure, and they should get help. Lori Wood of Region Ten in Albemarle County says mental health services are still available.

“Our doors aren’t necessarily open, but our services are. So folks can always call our main number, 434-972-1800, to talk with someone about what’s going on with them,” said Wood.

Wood says acts of self-care can also help during this time. Doing things like spending some time outside, getting good sleep, and eating healthy can all have a positive impact.

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