The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of life and the direct and indirect psychological, social, and economic effects of COVID-19 could affect mental and physical health now and into the future.
Studies have shown that large-scale disasters, whether traumatic, natural, or environmental are almost always accompanied by increase in depression, PTSD, substance use disorder, and a broad range of other mental and behavioural disorders.
COVID-19 is unique from other traumatic events because the government issued lockdown and social distancing protocols affect every person in society, not just those in direct proximity to the virus or in quarantine.
Many of us have lost our jobs while others have had to cope with stress and anxiety while working on the front lines or from home. Some of us have been exposed to the virus, either contracting it, having their loved ones falling sick, and in the worst scenario passing away.
If you are an already fragile person, the stress, anxiety, and PTSD brought on by COVID-19 may lead to your mental health deteriorating. You may no longer be able to work and can be eligible for long term disability (LTD) insurance. When applying for LTD it is important to consider that in most claims the cause of your mental health condition is not relevant.
To better understand the link between LTD and COVID-19, let us explore some scenarios.
Scenario 1: Single Parent Whose Income and/or Bonuses Have Been Cut Due to COVID-19
You are a single parent who was working a mid-level 9-5 job and was living paycheque to paycheque. Due to COVID-19, you had to take a pay cut and/or your yearly bonus was eliminated. This sudden decrease in income which you previously depended on is no longer available to you and is the reason your stress levels have increased drastically. While you were barely keeping it together before, this added stress is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Under this scenario, you are unable to continue work and could be eligible for LTD.
Scenario 2: Loved One Infected With/ Passes Away Due to COVID-19
You experience tremendous stress when your relatives or friends’ contract COVID-19 or fear that they might become infected with the virus. You research and learn about the worst outcomes associated with the virus, which leads to your mental health being impacted. Even worse, you have had a loved one pass away due to COVID-19 and you were unable to be by their side. You feel immense guilt and are unable to move beyond it. Such scenarios can lead to mental health breakdowns and have a direct impact on a person’s ability to work.
Scenario 3: You Work Close to Others
You work in a job that requires you to be close to others and all the information you have received regarding COVID-19 says you should stay at least 6-feet apart from someone else. There is trauma caused by the fear of your existing environment and this will not allow you to work anywhere else.
Scenario 4: Mental Health Deteriorates Due to Unavailability of Treatment
With psychological trauma, if you get treatment quickly you can develop strategies to cope with it. However, with COVID-19, there is a lack of psychiatric or psychological treatment available as some doctors and facilities have closed their offices and are not seeing new patients. There are options available for telephone and videoconferencing, but you are not comfortable with this and want to wait to see a medical professional in-person. The limited options available at this time for your treatment can lead to your mental health becoming worse and increase your inability to work.
The nature and response measures as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented in modern history. Not only does COVID-19 impact those in close proximity to the virus, but the economic lockdown and social distancing protocols affect every single person in a variety of ways. What is clear is that COVID-19 will have a profound effect on all aspects of society, including mental and physical health.