The Covid-19 Mental Health Crisis

The Covid-19 Mental Health Crisis

Mental health is a huge problem in the United States. About one-fifth of all Americans grapple with psychological disorders, and only half of them get treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem, and more than half of all Americans report their mental health has suffered.

Each year, about 1.4 million Americans attempt suicide. And for every attempt, there is a shattered person and a family in crisis. Now imagine if this tragic number were to increase by 25% or more. What if two million Americans tried to take their own life? What would that do to our family dynamics, our children’s heath, our national spirit, our damaged economy?

This horrifying mental health trajectory is exactly the one we are on as a country due to the COVID-19 crisis, but it is not too late to alter this destructive path.

After the Great Recession, a mental health study found that for approximately every percentage point growth in the unemployment rate, the suicide rate in the country went up by about 1.6%. Losing a job can be emotionally catastrophic, undermining’s one’s identity and sense of self. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment was at an all-time low of 3.5%. As of early May, it had grown to an astronomical 14.7%, the worse level since the Great Depression. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the real jobless number, which includes those who have given up looking for work or are underemployed, is above 22%. The Treasury Secretary acknowledges that the jobless rate may be higher, above 25%. This is against a backdrop where suicide attempts have risen every year since 1999, growing over a third since the turn of the millennium.

While it is unclear at what level the COVID-19 induced unemployment ultimately settles, let’s assume a conservative (and worrying) range of 15-25%. This implies the rate of attempted suicides in America could increase by over 30%. Put another way, the 1.4 million Americans who try to take their own life could grow to well over 2 million.

Given this heartbreaking possibility, it would be logical to assume that federal funding for mental health would be increased dramatically. Sadly, this has not been the case. Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill in response to COVID-19, the largest in US history, but only a tiny amount relates to mental health.

The clock is ticking. Here are three steps that could make a real difference.

First, mental health professionals have had a hard time bringing their practices online to reach those in need. Restrictions on licensing and reimbursement have been an impediment, even to the point of a therapist not being allowed to talk to patients on the phone. This is beginning to change. Federal regulators, followed by private insurers, have recently introduced waivers to broaden access to non-emergency services and committed to pay for telephonic medicine. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now cover telehealth appointments, while HIPAA data privacy rules have been changed to enable the use of internet-based video calls to connect doctors and patients. These kinds of steps should be broadened to include all forms of mental tele-health, including therapy via email and messaging, and continue even after the COVID-19 crisis recedes. Further, technology firms that provide critical tele-health enabling services, like Zoom, Apple’s Facetime, and Microsoft’s Skype, should work with the mental health community to customize offerings to therapist’s needs.

Second, mental health therapy often takes place at community centers that are financially challenged and reducing their programmatic offerings.  Mental health organizations estimate that about $40 billion is needed to save such centers, and an additional $10 billion is needed to handle the COVID-19 related challenges – yet, only about $400 million has been provided. Congress needs to urgently increase funding.

Third, youth mental health disorders have been on the rise for years, doubling over the last decade. Further, 80% of those suffering receive no form of therapy. COVID-19 presents a grave threat to this worrying path, given that the mental health of young people is often related to their social interactions. Increased social isolation and loneliness are strongly linked with anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide attempts. And with schools and universities closed, access to mental health professionals has been curtailed. Technology can help. Social media providers should proactively develop peer support groups for students and youth and monitoring programs for signs of mental health emergencies, while parents could leverage phone-based apps for their children that enable screening and monitoring of anxiety and depression.

Mental health disorders and suicide attempts are rampant in the United States, and for too long they have been on the rise, with treatment under-funded at the federal level. This must change. We cannot let COVID-19 drive this silent crisis to a tipping point with catastrophic consequences.

39 Responses to The Covid-19 Mental Health Crisis

  1. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me
    of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this.
    I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will
    have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  2. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this
    brilliant blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to fresh updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  3. Thank you for some other great article. The place else could anyone get that type of info in such an ideal way of writing?

    I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I am on the search for such information.

  4. Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and tested to
    see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be
    a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
    I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  5. Thanks for the good writeup. It in fact used to be a leisure account
    it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! By the way,
    how could we be in contact?

  6. I’m now not positive the place you’re getting your
    info, however good topic. I needs to spend some time finding out more or working out
    more. Thanks for fantastic information I was on the lookout for this information for my mission.

  7. You actually make it seem really easy along with your presentation but I in finding this matter to be really
    one thing that I feel I would by no means understand.
    It kind of feels too complex and very broad for me.
    I am having a look ahead on your next put up,
    I will try to get the cling of it!

  8. Hello There. I found your blog the usage of msn. This is an extremely smartly written article.
    I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to learn more of your useful information.
    Thank you for the post. I’ll definitely return.

  9. Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Cheers

  10. Its such as you learn my mind! You seem to understand a lot about this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something.
    I feel that you simply could do with a few p.c.
    to pressure the message home a bit, but other than that, that is wonderful blog.

    An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

  11. You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write.
    The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe.
    Always go after your heart.

  12. It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
    I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things
    or tips. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article.

    I wish to read more things about it!

  13. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading
    it, you may be a great author. I will always bookmark
    your blog and definitely will come back in the foreseeable future.

    I want to encourage that you continue your great work, have a nice weekend!

  14. I just like the valuable information you provide to your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and test once more here regularly. I’m slightly sure
    I will be told a lot of new stuff right here! Good luck for the following!

  15. I think this is one of the most important information for
    me. And i am glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things,
    The site style is perfect, the articles is really excellent : D.
    Good job, cheers

  16. Have you ever considered about including a little
    bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and
    everything. However imagine if you added some great graphics
    or videos to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and
    video clips, this website could undeniably be one of the best in its niche.
    Excellent blog!

  17. Thanks for a marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you could be a great author.
    I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will come back very soon.
    I want to encourage yourself to continue your great writing, have a nice afternoon!

  18. Hi there everyone, it’s my first visit at this website, and article is truly
    fruitful in support of me, keep up posting these types of articles.

  19. Hello! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog
    platform are you using for this website? I’m getting fed
    up of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m
    looking at alternatives for another platform.
    I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  20. Howdy would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re
    working with? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near
    future but I’m having a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

    The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs
    and I’m looking for something completely unique.
    P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  21. Wow! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a
    entirely different subject but it has pretty much
    the same layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

  22. Hi there everybody, here every one is sharing these kinds of familiarity, thus it’s
    good to read this weblog, and I used to pay a quick visit this blog every day.

  23. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time
    a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thanks!

  24. all the time i used to read smaller articles or reviews
    which as well clear their motive, and that is also happening with this post which I am
    reading here.

Fasten your seatbelts

Fasten your seatbelts

Flagging growth, depressed earnings, the risk of rising Covid-19 infection rates and unprecedented US election risk are forces that not even the Federal Reserve may be able to offset. Continue Reading