COVID-19 linked to an increase in mental health issues

August 17, 2020

According to a recent study, communities across the country are dealing with an increased number of mental health challenges due to “COVID-19–associated morbidity, mortality, and mitigation activities.”

A study in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that communities across the country are dealing with an increased number of mental health challenges due to “COVID-19–associated morbidity, mortality, and mitigation activities.”

The report is produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The groups especially affected, according to investigators, include younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers. These individuals are having worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.1

This finding was based on the survey responses of 5412 (54.7%) of 9896 eligible invited adults who completed web-based surveys during the week of June 24-30, 2020.

When the responses were compared with those obtained previously in 2019. The investigators reported, “Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April–June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.”

Almost 41% of responders having at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition that was related to the viral pandemic. The conditions included “symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder (related to the pandemic† (26.3%), and having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%).”

“The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey (10.7%) was significantly higher among respondents aged 18–24 years (25.5%), minority racial/ethnic groups (Hispanic respondents [18.6%], non-Hispanic black [black] respondents [15.1%]), self-reported unpaid caregivers for adults§ (30.7%), and essential workers¶ (21.7%),” the investigators wrote.

The investigators were led by Mark É. Czeisler, MPhil

“Community-level intervention and prevention efforts, including health communication strategies, designed to reach these groups could help address various mental health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” they concluded.

REFERENCE

1. Czeisler ME, Lane RI, Petrosky E, et al. mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020. MMWR 2020;69:1049–1057.