Mental Health Implications of COVID-19

By: Meredith Crain

As COVID-19 cases begin to rise once again in the United States, we are experiencing a widespread mental health crisis.  2020 has consisted of large scale events we have experienced before, but never all in one calendar year. Communities around the US have made it through hurricanes, country-wide social movements and a terrifying pandemic. According to Houston Methodist, "We're having to work through these stressors and deal with these emotional events without our normal coping mechanisms — each other." Restrictions in some states and communities are easing but the COVID-19 disease is still rampant and social distancing measures continue to keep friends and family away from each other.

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In June of this year, the CDC conducted a study that revealed 40% of U.S. adults reported they were struggling with mental health or substance abuse during the pandemic and that specific symptoms of anxiety disorder were three times higher than those reported in June of 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has created new barriers for those who are experiencing mental health struggles for the first time and for those who were already struggling with mental illness and substance abuse.

Mental healthcare organizations across the United States are beginning to see higher patient loads as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift in some states, causing physicians and allied health professionals that work within these organizations to begin to experience burn-out. A back log of continual services to those who already suffered from mental illness before the pandemic will combine with the rising number of people who are seeking help for mental health implications caused solely by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the pandemic continues, the  increasing need for telehealth and need for behavioral health physician and allied health professionals will become a long-term trend in most United States communities. Organizations will need to seek out qualified providers that will relieve current providers and allied health professionals from the implications of burn-out, but also to keep up with the demand to service their communities in need.