Mental Health: Will it be the Next Crisis to Hit the World?
As summer is fast approaching, many health care workers are concerned that another crisis will be on our hands. There has been a surge in mental health concerns in recent times. While COVID-19 has been ripping its way through the world, shutting down entire countries and sending people home to self-isolate, it has increased the number of people who suffer from mental illness and addiction.
As almost half of Americans reported that they find their mental health taking a decline since Coronavirus started, more data is coming out showing that depression and anxiety have been rising and causing additional stress on our society.
A study done by Healthline shows that 49% of the respondents had some signs of depression; 28% being mild, 12% moderate and 9% stating that they are suffering from severe depression. These numbers are quite an increase from the norms taken in 2006, which consisted of 30% suffered from mild depression, 6% from moderate and just 1% suffering from severe depression. The 12% increase can largely be based on the fear, financial worries and the isolation that COVID-19 has brought. (2020, Holland)
Since the US declaired a national emergency on March 13, hospitals have been overrun with people suffering from COVID-19. Soon they will see a surge of patients who are coming in for anxiety attack, PTSD and depression. This being accompanied by doctors and nurses being burnt out from continuous exposure to high levels of stress and the trauma. The hospitals and health facilities will soon find themselves unprepared and understaffed once again. They will struggle to treat patients and keep their workers safe. Many of these concerns have been brought to light in recent times as two American health care workers have taken their own lives after seeing all the horrors this pandemic has brought upon the world.
Not only is there ongoing trauma of witnessing death a concern, but the economic troubles that are arising during the pandemic are also hurting people’s mental health. A study on the Great Recession has shown a significant link. Every percentage that the unemployment rate increases, there was an approximate increase of 1.6% in suicide rates. (2020, Wan)
The mental health system in the United States has always been underfunded and difficult to access, even before COVID-19 struck the country. With the pandemic still very present in the community it has become even harder to gain access to help the people in need. CEO and co-founder of an online therapy company, Talkspace reported a 65% increase in clients since mid-February and stated “What’s shocking to me is how little leaders are talking about this. There are no White House briefings about it. There is no plan.” (2020, Wan)
Congress has recently authorized $100 billion in emergency funds for hospitals and medical providers, however very little of that will go towards mental health. In April, American mental health organizations sent a letter to Congress stating that they will need $38.5 Billion to save the treatment providers and an additional $10 billion is needed to help with the aftermath of COVID-19.
As medical professionals are being pushed to treat patients online, there is a glimmer of hope. If mental health care practices can also transfer some of their services online in the form of telemedicine, the services may be more accessible to the public and those who need them.
“You have to hold on to the positive and how you’re helping in the ways you can. That hope is like medicine. It’s as important and tangible as Tylenol.” Flavia Nobay, an emergency room doctor stated. (2020, Wan)
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they text to 741741.