The COVID-19 Crisis: Impacting Both Physical and Mental Health

As I’m sure everyone with access to a radio, television, computer, or window peering onto the empty streets knows, the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic has forced people all around the world to make colossal, and sometimes detrimental, lifestyle changes. Broadly speaking, this virus has had wide-ranging effects on global citizens. Women, specifically, are projected to suffer a tremendous amount from the disruption caused by the virus. Statistically, women are the default caregivers in most heterosexual relationships and have often been expected to put their own professional responsibilities second to taking care of childcare and most household chores, as the virus shuts down schools, maintenance services, restaurants, etc. Sex workers suddenly have no clientele and are at a huge disadvantage since they are unable to receive government relief funds. With the surging demand for medical resources, women don’t have the same access to reproductive healthcare, and trans men and women don’t have the same access to HRT injections, as we are told to stay away from hospitals and medical providers in order to limit infections. The list of setbacks towards the economic progress of women in America, and feminism overall, is endless.

Beyond the virus’s economic strain, college students were directed to return home and internships are expected to be canceled: all extremely unfortunate circumstances that force everyday Americans to do a double-take on what they might have always taken for granted in their everyday lives. Who knew we would miss the Cafeteria’s chicken parmesan so much?

While some students have settled in and figured out their spots and moments of peace at home, doodling between zoom classes, the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has strong, if not harmful, effects on different pockets of the global community. Among most Americans faced with the stress of economic depression, viral infection, etc., are those who, on top of that, have additive fears in quarantine. Most students and young adults are now faced with the strain of leaving their college life and back towards their families or lack thereof. While these spots are meant to be safe havens for students and young adults to avoid contact with the virus, this spontaneous deferral from college life has many women, members of the LGBTQ community, victims of abuse, and those with a wide range of other circumstances cut off from the resources that they can usually count on at a college campus.

In the LGBTQ community, there are some college students who are living at home where they do not feel the same sense of safety and acceptance within their community or living situation. While not all cases are extreme, even just the inability to access spaces that are usually felt to be safe places to be oneself can have an immense mental health toll. Along with the Dickinson College Wellness Center’s remote healthcare access, the Trevor Project can provide free, confidential, secure texting/phone calls with a trained Trevor counselor for LGBTQ youth in need of support.

Domestic abuse victims and any other victims living with or alongside an abuser that are in need of support should utilize the National Domestic Violence Hotline to talk confidentially to a trained advocate who can provide lifesaving tools and resources.

While the future becomes more and more uncertain as the numbers of those affected by the virus continue to spike daily, these shared unprecedented and trying times can provide an opportunity for communities to come together, even if done so remotely.

Written by Lizzy Parry ’21, WGRC student worker

Image: CDC/Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins

April 6, 2020