Yery Eva Joo South High School 12th Grade
During this historical pandemic of COVID-19, many people have talked about social distancing and staying at home to avoid the spread of this coronavirus. But what people haven’t talked about is how these stay-at-home orders can jeopardize our mental health and how other countries can be affected more heavily than others.
In the past decades, the United States has been advocating the importance of mental health and raising awareness of mental illnesses. Partially due to the younger generations and their liberal ideas, the United States has been more accepting of people’s mental flaws and has a plethora of community programs that address these issues. Because of these proactive measures, suicide rates due to mental illnesses are significantly lower compared to other first-world countries.
On the other side of the globe, South Korea has the highest suicide rate, with around 36 people dying per day, or 1 death every 40 minutes according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. This can be explained by the culture in South Korea and its views on mental illness: “Mental illness is a hoax”. Many Koreans who confess their hardships often receive replies saying, “Oh, you have depression? Well, I have depression and social anxiety” and try to one-up another. The cutthroat competition, along with other cultural pressures, fosters within Korean students, workers, and community often leading to the downfall in the peoples’ mental health, ultimately suicide. Although the country has made progress in acknowledging mental illness seriously, it still lacks basic programs and has more corrections to be made.
Comparing the two countries, it seems that the United States would manage the mental battle of self-isolation far better than South Korea. Yes, to some extent this is true, however, both countries are still at risk for these mental illnesses. As Eunice Kim, a sophomore at Cypress High School speaks, “COVID-19 definitely plays a role in people’s mental health. I actually volunteer for online therapy and I’ve had many conversations with people about falling into sad spirals because of [social distancing].” This just shows us how everyone is vulnerable to this derivative of the pandemic, no matter how well-equipped one may be.
“I think it’s important to fight together especially during this time of history. It’s not a competition about who is more affected than others; It’s a competition about how we are going to fight this virus”, South High School senior Katie Kotake says. Even though we all are affected differently because of this coronavirus, we must stand strong together (while keeping six feet of distance) and overcome the mentally straining challenges that lie in front of us.
We must unite to fight.
<Yery Eva Joo South High School 12th Grade