Global Anxiety and Depression Rise by 25% in First Year of Pandemic, Says WHO
COLUMBIA — A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that during the inaugural year of the COVID-19 pandemic, global rates of anxiety and depression experienced a disconcerting surge, increasing by 25%. This statistical insight underscores the profound toll that the pandemic took on the world’s mental health.
Catherine Miller, a licensed counselor based in Columbia, shared her perspective on the matter, acknowledging that while the world has made strides in combating the pandemic, the collective mental well-being of individuals is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
“In the wake of the pandemic’s onset, the world grappled with heightened anxiety fueled by concerns about the virus, job security, and economic stability,” noted Miller. “This unprecedented mental health challenge led us to recognize that people are still navigating the aftermath and adjusting to a new normal.”
As the fall season and holidays approach, a seasonal dip in mental health is anticipated. Approximately 5% of adults in the United States experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), according to data from the American Psychiatric Association. SAD typically persists for around 40% of the year.
“With daylight hours dwindling and darkness descending earlier, we must find ways to support positive mental health during this transition,” Miller urged.
In response to this pressing need, Miller has unveiled a novel fitness challenge designed to address these concerns.
Having recently completed the Athletes Performance Institute (API) Project Fitness’ 21-day challenge, Miller was inspired to develop her own initiative, christened the “Take 5 Challenge.”
Miller elaborated, “Many people encounter difficulties when attempting to initiate positive changes, whether it be in exercise routines or nurturing mental well-being.”
The Take 5 Challenge is centered around five essential aspects that individuals can embrace to enhance their physical and mental health. Miller explained, “Creating a structured plan can alleviate anxiety, while exercise is well-established as an antidote to depression, fostering a more optimistic outlook. Combining these elements promises even more favorable outcomes.”
Notably, Miller has enlisted the support of her long-time trainer and the owner of API Fitness, Jerrell Jackson, who shares her commitment to intertwining physical fitness and mental health in this unique challenge.
Jackson, who has been organizing fitness challenges at his gym since 2016, highlighted the significance of incorporating mental health into the equation. “This challenge presents a fantastic opportunity to reach a broader demographic, merging fitness and mental health into a unified endeavor,” he affirmed.
Anticipating a robust online community response, Jackson asserted, “We have already gained momentum on the fitness front, but it’s crucial to remember that caring for the body should go hand in hand with caring for the mind.”
Leigh Ann Clayton, a participant in the previous 21-day challenge, expressed her intention to participate in the upcoming Take 5 Challenge. “Mental health is paramount,” she emphasized. Clayton, who has been receiving treatment for breast cancer, shared how the community’s support has been a tremendous source of motivation during her journey.
The Take 5 Challenge, spearheaded by Miller, is scheduled to commence on September 1st and will extend over a 21-day period. Those interested in joining the challenge can access further details on Miller’s Facebook page.