‘We’re really being asked to develop a tolerance for uncertainty’: The toll the delta variant is taking on Wisconsinites’ mental health

MADISON, Wis.– The rise in COVID cases and return of masks feels like déjà vu for many people who thought, “We finally got through this.” But if you’re feeling frustrated, concerned, anxious, or depressed, you’re not alone.

A new survey conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan pinpointed four groups that are most likely to have experienced a decline in their mental health during the first year of the pandemic:

  • Women
  • People between the ages of 50 and 64
  • People with higher levels of education
  • People in either fair/poor physical health

“We’re really being asked to develop a tolerance for uncertainty,” said UW Health’s Dr. Shilagh Mirgain.

Psychologists like Mirgain are concerned more people will continue to struggle with their mental health as the pandemic continues, but also offer a bit of encouragement.

“You have gotten through a year and a half of this pandemic,” Mirgain reminded. “There are many things you have done well.”

There were several bright spots in the survey. People between the ages of 65 and 80 were less likely to have experienced a decline in their mental health. And nearly one-third of people said they’d taken steps to purposely improve their mental well-being since March 2020.

Mirgain recommends staying connected with others, focusing on what you can control, finding a go-to stress reliever that works for you, and when all else fails, remembering this:

The virus is just one part of life.

If you are still not feeling like yourself and don’t know what else to do, there is no shame in getting help. UW Health suggests calling your primary care doctor first because a recommendation from him or her can often help you secure an appointment with a mental health specialist more quickly.

Click here for more information on the Behavioral Health services offered by UW Health.