Is Mental Health the Next Pandemic?

By IGI Global on Dec 16, 2020

Editor Note: Understanding the importance of this timely topic and to ensure that research is made available to the wider academic community, IGI Global has made a sample of related articles and chapters complimentary to access. View the end of this article to freely access this critical research.


With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, the shifting lockdown and social distancing protocols, coupled with the ongoing stream of contentious political and medical news, many headlines deem 2020 as the “worst year ever.” Although many are anxiously awaiting 2021 and stating that it will be a better year with the new COVID-19 vaccine, according to a BBC article, the impacts of stress from this year could last well into the future with much of the population at risk for developing mental health disorders. These disorders can include:

  • Germaphobia-Based Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors: The extra stress of the pandemic and mandates for cleanliness can increase the germaphobia-based tendencies and trigger those with a genetic predisposition towards OCD.
  • Social Anxiety and/or General Anxiety: Many individuals already suffer from general anxiety, which can heighten due to the increasing death rates of the pandemic and the future fear of a variant strain.
  • Depression and Suicidal Thoughts: Similar to the SARs global outbreak in 2003, experts are predicting an increase in suicides and depression, especially for those over the age of 65.
  • Chronic Loneliness and Isolation: With the increased lockdown and social isolation protocols, individuals can develop chronic loneliness, which can cause individuals to become withdrawn from society in the future.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress: Most shown in emergency personnel, this can be caused by seeing traumatic situations and is linked to events that lead to thousands of deaths or more. Additionally, for COVID-19 patients or individuals that experience the deaths of family members or friends, it can develop through a constant fear of people dying.
  • And More.

Researchers are currently gathering empirical data to review the overall long-term effects this pandemic has on mental health and how to manage it effectively. To assist researchers, academicians, and the general public in understanding the effects of pandemics on mental health and the various ways to regulate mental health, Prof. Daniel J. Tomasulo, from Teachers College, Columbia University, USA & University of Pennsylvania, USA, outlines how intentional well-being interventions can develop character strengthening and positive emotional responses to alleviate depression and poor health, in his chapter, “A Happier Balance: Positive Interventions for Intentional Well-Being in Psychotherapy”, sourced from the Research Anthology on Rehabilitation Practices and Therapy (IGI Global).

Research Anthology on Rehabilitation Practices and Therapy
Copyright: 2021 | Pages: 1,978 | ISBN: 9781799834328 | EISBN: 9781799834335

This publication is a vital reference source that examines the latest scholarly material on trends and techniques in counseling and therapy and provides innovative insights into contemporary and future issues within the field...Learn More.

The history of psychology has been to create interventions and practices, which while alleviating suffering, did little to enhance well-being. However, not being depressed isn’t the same as being happy, and the rich area of research initiated by positive psychology has enhanced our understanding of what it takes to feel good—and what intentional well-being interventions can do to help balance out the traditionally deficit-oriented methods of psychotherapy.

About fifty years ago, psychologists began developing evidence-based theories and practices about happiness that are now gaining momentum. From the human potential movement of the 1960s through the current proliferation of professional societies and discipline-specific journals and degree-granting programs, there has been a greater push for research on the effectiveness of positive interventions. In the nearly twenty years since positive psychology was labeled and formally initiated, a plethora of research from every corner of the world has been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, made his 1998 presidential term a transformative platform for the development of positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). In its first 20 years, this new sub-field of psychology has become a highly comprehensive, evidence-based perspective (Seligman, 1992, 2002, 2011; Seligman, Ernst, Gillham, Reivich, & Linkins, 2009; Reivich, Seligman, & McBride, 2011). Through these contributions, Seligman promotes a science that gives well-being a prominent position. His goal is not to usurp the work of psychologists and psychology, but rather to add to the ever-increasing knowledge of human behavior. Seligman’s work has been crucial in initiating change within the field. Prior to these advances, the goal of psychologists and other purveyors of psychotherapy has been to relieve the burden of emotional distress. However, this new research invites us to now include ways to promote sustainable well-being. Although the current practice of psychotherapy is significantly better than placebos, and in many instances better than medications (Castonguay, 2013; Leykin & DeRubeis, 2009), traditional psychotherapy can no longer be accepted as a sufficient treatment protocol. The need and research to support the effectiveness of these new interventions is at a tipping point. Positive interventions to promote intentional well-being are now necessary additions to the therapist’s toolbox.

Seligman was influenced by and has built on the work of many pioneers who have come before him, and the contributions of some of his predecessors are particularly worth noting. Specifically, the work of humanistic psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow—both of whom also served as presidents of the American Psychological Association—stand out. Rogers and Maslow positioned psychology at the center of a major transition in society and became part of what was known as the human potential movement. At a time when the theories of Freud (1977) and Skinner (1972)—psychoanalysis and behaviorism, respectively—dominated the academic and clinical literature, Rogers and Maslow made a push for a more positive approach to individual therapy and to conceptualizations of human nature. Rogers’s “client-centered therapy” (1951) helped psychology move away from the medical model and a disease orientation by promoting that psychologists refer to the people they work with as “clients” rather than “patients.” Abraham Maslow (1954, 1962) theorized that people have a hierarchy of needs, and argued that as more basic needs (food, shelter) were satisfied, there would be a natural tendency to move toward full personal potential, which he called self-actualization. These two approaches reflected a departure from the psychoanalytic and behavioral models and were major influences on the culture. One important shortcoming of this “third way” proposed by Maslow and Rogers, however, is that although the human potential movement drew a very wide range of thinkers and followers, very few of them carried out evidence-based research on these emerging ideas. As a result, the humanistic theories did not have a substantial empirical base (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).

Despite this shortcoming, the work of Rogers and Maslow opened the way for other psychologists to develop alternatives to psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck are two of these psychologists. Both Ellis and Beck were trained in psychoanalysis, but found those methods to be unsatisfactory for many of their clients, particularly those struggling with depression. Albert Ellis (1962) had been writing about the ways humans think about situations and how our beliefs change as a result. He proposed the A-B-C model, designed to help understand beliefs that occur in response to life events and the resulting consequences. In this model, A = “Activating event,” the thing that causes us to respond; B = “Beliefs” about the causes of the event; and C = “Consequences,” emotional and behavioral results of these beliefs. There usually are direct connections between beliefs and consequences and there often are patterns in how these connections occur. The A-B-C model is important in the history of positive interventions because it made beliefs a subject for scientific study. Aaron Beck (Beck et al., 1961; Beck, 1967; Braff & Beck, 1974), the father of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), was also interested in beliefs. He noticed depressed patients had automatic thoughts about themselves, the world around them, and the future. By identifying these situational automatic thoughts and challenging patients to think differently, Beck could demonstrate that a person’s core beliefs and consequent feelings could change. The interested reader is directed to a wonderfully articulated workbook integrating CBT with psychodramatic theory and practice by Tom Treadwell and his colleagues (Treadwell, Dartnell, Travaglini, Staats, & Devinney, 2016).

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Understanding the need for research around this topic, this research is featured in the publication Research Anthology on Rehabilitation Practices and Therapy (IGI Global). This title is a vital reference source that examines the latest scholarly material on trends and techniques in counseling and therapy and provides innovative insights into contemporary and future issues within the field. Highlighting a range of topics such as psychotherapy, anger management, and psychodynamics, this multi-volume book is ideally designed for mental health professionals, counselors, therapists, clinical psychologists, sociologists, social workers, researchers, students, and social science academicians seeking coverage on significant advances in rehabilitation and therapy.

It is currently available in electronic format (EISBN: 9781799834335) through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore at a 50% discount. Additionally, to ensure that the research community can easily and affordably access this content, this publication and all IGI Global titles are available on the individual article and chapter level (pay-per-view) for US$ 37.50 through IGI Global's InfoSci-Ondemand. Recommend this publication and view all of the chapters featured in this title on the book webpage here. Additionally, this research and IGI Global’s full list of related titles is featured in the InfoSci-Books database. Request a free trial or recommend the InfoSci-Books database to your library to have access to this critical research.

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Featured Publications Surrounding This Topic:

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Deconstructing Stigma in Mental Health
Profs. Brittany A. Canfield (Southern New Hampshire University, USA) and Holly A. Cunningham (CPES Inc., USA)
Copyright: 2018 | Pages: 307 | ISBN: 9781522538080 | EISBN: 9781522538097

This title provides emerging research on issues related to stigma as a whole including ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination. While highlighting issues such as stigma and its role in mental health and how stigma is perpetuated in society, this publication explores the historical context of stigma, current issues and resolutions through intersectional collaboration, and the deconstruction of mental health stigmas. This book is a valuable resource for mental health administrators and clinicians, researchers, educators, policy makers, and psychology professionals seeking information on current mental health stigma trends.
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Workforce Development Theory and Practice in the Mental Health Sector
Mark Smith (Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui: National Workforce Center for Adult Mental Health, Addiction and Disability, New Zealand) and Angela F. Jury (Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui: National Workforce Center for Adult Mental Health, Addiction and Disability, New Zealand)
Copyright: 2017 | Pages: 378 | ISBN: 9781522518747 | EISBN: 9781522518754

This title is an essential reference source on the understanding of workforce capacity and capability and examines specific benefits and applications in addiction and mental health services. Featuring extensive coverage on a range of topics including public service provision, staff motivation, and clinical competency, this book is ideally designed for policy makers, academicians, researchers, and students seeking current research on the challenges facing countries in the areas of planning and development in the workforce.
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Scientific Concepts Behind Happiness, Kindness, and Empathy in Contemporary Society

Copyright: 2019 | Pages: 321 | ISBN: 9781522559184 | EISBN: 9781522559191

This title is an essential reference source that offers in-depth studies that anchor concepts of happiness, kindness, wellbeing, and empathy from a scientific perspective. Featuring research on topics such as cognitive revolution, neurobiology of wellbeing, and rational emotive behavior therapy, this book is ideally designed for sociologists, academicians, psychology professionals, researchers, and graduate-level students seeking scientific coverage on happiness, kindness, and empathy.
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The Psychology and Dynamics Behind Social Media Interactions
Prof. Malinda Desjarlais (Mount Royal University, Canada)
Copyright: 2020 | Pages: 477 | ISBN: 9781522594123 | EISBN: 9781522594147

This title is an essential reference book that focuses on current social media research and provides insight into the benefits and detriments of social media through the lens of psychological theories. It enhances the understanding of current research regarding the antecedents to social media use and problematic use, effects of use for identity formation, mental and physical health, and relationships (friendships and romantic and family relationships) in addition to implications for education and support groups. Intended to aid in collaborative research opportunities, this book is ideal for clinicians, educators, researchers, councilors, psychologists, and social workers.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.

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