Some expect mental relief over the Memorial Day weekend; experts say pandemic increased stress

Coronavirus restrictions are largely relaxed.
Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Some people expect this holiday weekend to give them a huge mental boost given that COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed for people who are fully vaccinated. This as mental health experts say the year-long pandemic has been emotionally taxing for adults and children.

Along Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, people of all ages were unwinding as the Memorial Day weekend began.

Kim Saldaña was out with her two daughters Hazel and Nora.

“It’s a great day,” she said.

Memorial Day 2021 comes as COVID 19 cases are dropping, millions are vaccinated and government restrictions related to the virus are largely relaxed.

Saldaña says that amounts to a mental boost for her.

“One, because we can breathe, and it’s good to see the expression on people’s faces, you know, it’s great to see another smile coming back at you, so I definitely think that helps boost morale,” Saldaña said.

Pat Martin strolled along the lake and expressed the same sentiments.

“There was a lot more isolation and depression. I’m sure, you know, I mean I was of them but as you see I’m walking out here on the lakefront because it makes me feel a lot better, you know, to be out and about and out in the sunshine,” she said.

Dr. Michelle Moore is an LSU Health New Orleans clinical psychologist.

“I think for those who have been feeling isolated, feeling uncomfortable going out, I think the restrictions being lifted for those who are vaccinated give people a sense of hope, right, that their world feels a little bit more normal again and hopefully a little bit more comfortable being able to reconnect with people,” said Moore.

She says the ongoing pandemic has increased stressors in the lives of many people.

“I think we’ve seen increased isolation, which has caused increased depression; people who are already feeling some sense of depression to feel more depressed. Individuals who had some anxiety, underlying anxieties feeling more anxious, more overwhelmed,” Moore stated.

SciLine, an organization that works to enhance the amount of scientific evidence in news reporting, assembled a panel of mental health experts recently to discuss the mental toll of COVID-19.

Sheri Madigan, Ph.D., of the University of Calgary said adults and children have been impacted.

“This isn’t just about, you know, kids, it’s not about just health workers, it’s not about just parents. It’s the general population, it’s everyone is really struggling,” said Madigan.

Dr. Ruth Shim, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, also took part in the discussion.

“Raised awareness is always good and so the more people know that there is a risk of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder associated with the COVID pandemic, the better that is, in terms of normalizing,” Shim said.

Dr. Moore says not everyone impacted by COVID will feel great over the holiday weekend and it is important to keep that in mind and not be judgmental.

“This is going to be great for a lot of people and some people are going to feel wonderful and really feel rejuvenated by the restrictions being lifted and for others that anxiety level,” said Moore. “That anxiety of the mental health side is still very present and that’s going to take longer for some people to lift.”

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