By Mia Ruggerio

With COVID-19 remaining a very real threat to everyone around the world, it seems there is more at risk than our physical health and well-being. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, many have been struggling with their mental health as well. Those who were previously battling mental health issues before, are now facing new and unprecedented challenges. Those who never had issues with their mental health are facing these problems for the first time. Whether it is dealing with anxiety or depression, the sudden change and upheaval of normal routines, or a lack of motivation, mental unrest continues to grow.

According to an online article published by the CDC, elevated mental health conditions were reported by adults living in the United States during the period of June 24-30, 2020; in response to COVID-19.

Younger adults, racial and ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported elevated experiences of worse mental health states/outcomes, increase in thoughts of suicide, as well as an increase in substance use.

 An overall  40.9% of 5,470 respondents who completed surveys during June reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including those who reported symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), those with TSRD symptoms related to COVID-19 (26.3%), those who reported having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%), and those who reported having seriously considered suicide in the preceding 30 days (10.7%); according to the article.

According to the CDC, at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom was reported by more than one half of respondents who were aged 18–24 years (74.9%) and 25–44 years (51.9%), of Hispanic ethnicity (52.1%), and who held less than a high school diploma (66.2%), as well as those who were essential workers (54.0%), unpaid caregivers for adults (66.6%), and who reported treatment for diagnosed anxiety (72.7%), depression (68.8%), or PTSD (88.0%) at the time of the survey.

According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, reports are already indicating an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression in several countries. Specific groups of the population seem to be at a higher risk of psychological distress related to COVID-19. Health-care workers working on the frontline to combat the pandemic are, as to be expected, highly susceptible to distress.

Children, adolescents, women, older persons, and people with pre-existing mental health conditions are also at risk. There also appears to be an increase in alcohol consumption in relation to the pandemic, which worries mental health experts. It was reported that 20% of 15-49 year-olds have increased their levels of alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic; according to statistics taken from a study in Canada.

The disruption of the availability of mental health services in the wake of the pandemic appears to have a direct correlation to the decline in mental health. Mental health facilities are being converted into care facilities for those with COVID-19. Mental health staff who are normally able to care for their patients are being infected and cannot perform face-to-face services due to the need to quarantine.

While it is abundantly clear that those with COVID-19 are suffering on profound levels, the same can also be said for those with new or chronic mental health issues.

Credits for info: CDC.gov, WHO.int