Reina Rebelde En Casa: On Mental Health
How COVID-19 Is Impacting My Mental Health
My boyfriend and I started self-quarantining on March 5th in our New York City apartment. We’d just gotten back from London and even though we didn’t feel sick, we hadn’t passed the two week mark to feel confident that we weren’t carriers. Realizing that I didn’t feel safe enough to be around my family or loved ones was hard to wrap my head around. It also became one of the biggest triggers to my mental health. It was a brush with mortality that I hadn’t come across since losing my grandmother in 2014.
“I am scared of how this pandemic is going to develop and how it will impact my family,” I told my therapist on March 9th during our first virtual therapy session. She understood the context of what I was trying to say.
Growing up in my Latinx family meant that more often than not I felt like a caregiver to them. This reality wasn’t popping up in the news. We were talking about the importance of taking personal responsibility for staying home and safeguarding each other. No one was talking about how hard it is to be the child of an immigrant family trying to help them navigate probably one of the scariest times in our lives. The mental health toll of taking care of ourselves and our families were especially not mentioned, but they are there, present in everything we’ve lived in since we started staying home.
Virtually, I’ve had to keep up with work, keep my own mental health in check, and navigate the mental, physical, and logistical implications of having a family that lives in one of the neighborhoods that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
I’m not alone in how I’ve had to navigate this. Social media has been full of people sharing the fear of knowing that their parents or loved ones aren’t listening to stay-at-home orders. Resources, like Headspace’s free Spanish guided meditations, speak to an elevated need to tend to our own community’s mental health.
My family still lives in the Uptown NYC neighborhood I grew up in. They are seeing people die day over day. I live on the other side of town and having to navigate the emotional toll of feeling so limited in what I can control has triggered everything from my anxiety to my depression.
I speak about it openly because I know that mental health isn’t a topic Latinxs are comfortable around or used to speaking about. But, now more than ever, the call to action isn’t just limited to ensuring we remain physically safe. We need to also find resources or start conversations that can help us navigate the feelings that COVID-19 have sparked up.
News reports have shown that people of color are more at risk to contract and die from COVID-19. The news is propelling the fear in our communities forward. According to The Atlantic, “Black people, at 46 percent, and Latinos, at 39 percent, are about twice as likely as white people, at 21 percent, to view the coronavirus as a major threat to their health.”
The fear may help slow the physical spread of COVID-19 by encouraging people to stay home, but it’s set to make it harder on the mental strain of feeling like you can be next.
I’ve felt like I have no control during this time. I can’t safeguard my family more than they already are. What I have tried to do is fill the gap on mental health resources available to them, even if they don’t want to use them.
Below are some of the suggestions I’ve sent to my family that I hope can be useful to you too. And remember this isn’t an easy time for anyone. We’re navigating logistics, fear for our physical health, and triggers to our mental health, daily. Trying your best each day is more than enough.
Crisis Textline — https://www.crisistextline.org/
Headspace — https://www.headspace.com/ny
Headspace (in Spanish) — https://www.headspace.com/ny-es
AFSP — https://afsp.org/
NYS Office of Mental Health — https://omh.ny.gov/
(If you don’t live in NYS, most states have their own mental health offerings)
Vivian Nunez is a NYC-based writer, public speaker, and content creator. She is the founder of Too Damn Young, an online community and resource site for grieving young adults. Vivian writes and creates content that reminds her community that going through hard things, navigating your mental health or your grief, doesn't disqualify you from having a happy life. Vivian has spoken at the United Nations and has been featured by Instagram, and on platforms like Forbes, Mic, and Well+Good. Vivian also hosts a podcast, What Happened After?.