SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Mask mandates are ending throughout Utah and around the country, and for some, anxiety levels are rising especially after being required to wear one for more than a year.
People are battling with whether or not to stay masked up. Are you?
Blaine Hickman, a mental health therapist with Intermountain Healthcare at McKay-Dee Hospital, said the unknown and being judged are causing people to get anxiety over whether to mask up or not.
He added people need to be respectful and responsible.
“It’s starting to feel really good,” said Christopher Keth.
“I think it feels great,” said Heather Keth.
It’s almost weird to mention that a majority of people are maskless, whether after getting the vaccine or decided to not wear one.
Most are happy with the decision, but others told ABC4 they are feeling anxious about the decision to go maskless.
“It is definitely the right thing to be doing right now, but we were in it for so long it felt so strange at first, definitely felt strange at first, I felt like I was doing something wrong by not having one on,” said Heather.
Heather said she was dealing with anxiety before this week about whether or not to wear a mask.
She said there were a lot of mixed messages, and she doesn’t want to make people uncomfortable by not wearing one.
Her husband Christopher said he has no anxiety, but felt like it used to be a political statement.
“There was a while where it was a very political subject and maybe come fall I think that fell by the wayside when people realized it was real,” said Christopher Keth.
As ABC 4 walked through Liberty Park, most people were enjoying their time outdoors with or without masks and some were thrilled to have it this way while others were questioning the choice, increasing their anxiety.
“With something like wearing a mask or not wearing a mask, it can feel like a pretty simple decision if you just stick with that,” said Hickman.
As a mental health therapist with his own private practice, Hickman said he’s seen anxiety levels rise as things go back to normal; a normal where there are no masks.
He said people need to go at their own pace with the decision.
“Take into account your own feeling of safety as to whether or not you’re own health is at risk by wearing a mask or not wearing a mask and then also being aware of the reality that I don’t get to be in charge of what other people think,” said Hickman.