How Survivors of Abuse Can Take Care of Their Mental Health Amid the Pandemic

By Nif Vienna, guest blogger

The COVID-19 pandemic is more than just a struggle against a highly contagious virus, it’s also a serious threat to everyone’s mental health. Though the lockdowns were essential in keeping people safe from transmissions, the physical isolation came with a heavy consequence on many individuals’ mental health.

According to a health tracking poll, many individuals experienced mental health problems due to worry and stress over the pandemic. In fact, 41% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder at the beginning of 2021. For survivors of child abuse, this experience can be more profound, especially when they’re disconnected from places and people that have previously given them comfort and safety. Despite all the difficulties, survivors can extend love and care towards themselves through the following steps.

Practice Self-care

There are a lot of restrictions that are beyond our control during this pandemic. Instead of thinking about these unpleasant limitations, you can try to mitigate your stress levels by dedicating your time and energy to the things that you can control.

For example, meditation and mindfulness exercises can help rewire your brain and manage your responses to your thoughts. You can also manage your stress through exercise, which is known to be therapeutic for victims of trauma.

It releases happy hormones that can help alleviate negative feelings temporarily. Watching what you eat, meaning consuming nutritious food, and improving the amount and quality of your sleep will also benefit your overall state. All in all, these are habits you actually have control over and can help you feel infinitely better.

Consider Seeking Professional Help

That said, self-care tips can only do so much and you might need to seek professional help. If the trauma is recent, then the child must be taken to the hospital right away. The first point of contact with medical professionals will be a nurse, most likely with an RN to BSN qualification as they would have had specialist training. This training prepares nurses to detect all forms of abuse and follow protocols, such as collecting and preserving evidence. A nurse is also tasked with directing the child (or the guardians) to mental health professionals who can help in coping with trauma, such as a clinical psychologist. Most of these professionals have doctorate degrees in psychology and years of clinical training that make them very experienced in helping people who faced and survived child abuse.

But given the pandemic, be prepared to seek professional medical and psychological help virtually. You can access these health services by scheduling live video appointments with licensed doctors, nurses, and therapists in your state area. Search for professional help through federally qualified health centers, your insurance providers, or through reputable websites, like Teladoc and Doctor on Demand. The professionals in these centers can offer diagnosis, medication management, and therapy services, even through telehealth sessions.

Keep in Touch with Your Support System

You don’t have to deal with your painful experiences alone. Victims and survivors of abuse can find solace and peace by regularly communicating with a support system. This group may be composed of trusted family members, reliable friends, people with similar experiences, or even advocacy groups and organizations.

Regular communication with your support system is vital to your recovery. These social connections allow you to express what you’re going through and can provide you with the care that you may need. These days, it’s simple enough to hop on a call or a video conference with others. Even browsing online forums and connecting with people there can be validating and even provide you with the support you seek. You can find local chapters of groups like the Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, National Center for Trauma-Informed Care, and, of course, Childhelp. You can reach out to Childhelp via our 24-hour hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

It isn’t easy to cope with life’s challenges, which is why it’s important to surround yourself with a lot of love and support. No matter what you’re going through, you must remember that you are not alone and that there are a lot of people who are ready and willing to support you in every step of the way.