The coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which was first discovered in December 2019, has caused a global pandemic that is still affecting people in a variety of ways.
Cases and deaths have continued to rise in many countries, while the economic impact of social isolation and quarantine measures has been quantifiable.
Worry, stress, anxiety, and other emotional responses are natural during times of instability, and for those who are already suffering from mental illness, the added stress exacerbates their symptoms.
Social distancing regulations make it more difficult to access appropriate mental healthcare services for those experiencing mental distress during the pandemic.
Many people’s mental health has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession that came with it. People who already have mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders now face more barriers to getting help.
The pandemic has caused about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. to show signs of anxiety or depression, which is up from 1 in 10 adults who showed these signs from January to June 2019.
In this article, we will tackle the COVID-19 statistics and facts on how it affects mental health. We will present facts, and statistics from experts to further explain and broaden your idea about COVID-19 and its ill effect on human mental health.
COVID-19 Causing Mental Health Issues
Mental health services have been severely disrupted or halted in 93% of countries worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new WHO survey.
Data from 130 countries in this survey shows how devastating COVID-19 is for people’s access to mental health care and highlights the urgent need for more funding.
The disease’s direct effects on individuals and their families, as well as the disease’s indirect effects on financial security, housing, unemployment, and social isolation, have increased emotional and psychological challenges around the world, with certain populations disproportionately affected.
KFF Health Tracking Poll from July 2020 found that many adults are having trouble sleeping (36%) or eating (32%) because they are worried and stressed about the coronavirus. This is because they are worried and stressed about how the virus will affect them.
As the pandemic goes on, public health measures that are still important and necessary are going to put a lot of people in situations that can lead to bad mental health, like being alone and losing their jobs.
Before the pandemic, countries were spending less than 2% of their national health budgets on mental health and were struggling to meet their populations’ needs, according to the World Health Organization.
In addition, the pandemic is driving up demand for mental health services. Bereavement, isolation, loss of income, and fear can all trigger or exacerbate mental health problems.
Many people may be experiencing an increase in alcohol and drug use, as well as insomnia and anxiety.
COVID-19, on the other hand, can cause neurological and mental problems like delirium, agitation, and stroke.
People with pre-existing mental, neurological, or substance-abusing disorders are also more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and they may face a higher risk of severe consequences, including death.
Mental Illness and COVID-19
From June to August 2020, the survey was conducted in 130 countries across WHO’s six regions.
It assesses how COVID-19 has affected the delivery of mental, neurological, and substance use services, the types of services that have been disrupted, and how countries are adapting to meet these challenges.
Many types of critical mental health services were reported to be disrupted across countries:
- Children and adolescents (72%), older adults (70%), and women requiring antenatal or postnatal services (60%) all reported disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable people (61%).
- Counseling and psychotherapy were disrupted in 67% of cases, critical harm reduction services in 65%, and opioid agonist maintenance treatment in 45% of cases.
- Emergency interventions, such as those for people experiencing prolonged seizures, severe substance use withdrawal syndromes, and delirium, which is often a sign of a serious underlying medical condition, were reported to be disrupted by more than a third (3%).
- Access to medications for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders was reported to be disrupted by 30% of respondents.
- Around three-quarters said mental health services at school and work had been disrupted in some way (78% and 75%respectively).
Below are the statistics and facts on how COVID-19 affects mental health in the United States:
Anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental disorders, with 15.2% of Americans aged 18 to 25 reporting a major depressive episode in the previous year.
Anxiety causes feelings of panic or fear, as well as an increase in heart rate and muscular tension, whereas depression causes feelings of sadness, a lack of motivation and enjoyment, and a reduction in energy levels.
Both disorders have symptoms that can be mild or severe, affecting sleep, concentration, appetite, social interaction, and/or the ability to perform daily tasks.
The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has caused a threefold increase in the number of people reporting anxiety or depression symptoms.
Suicidal thoughts and drug use
Substance abuse and suicidal ideation are both linked to mental health and the presence of emotional stressors, so it’s no surprise that both have risen in 2020.
Due to social distancing regulations, the pandemic makes it even more difficult for those who already have substance use disorders or are in recovery to get the help they need.
Up to 15% of adults in the United States began or increased substance use to cope with pandemic-related stressor emotions in June 2020.
Minimizing the long-term damage
More than just physical health is at risk as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as people around the world face social isolation, a lack of school structures, unemployment, financial instability, and a higher risk of abuse (e.g. in the case of domestic violence).
The pandemic’s severe and long-term effects on mental health should not be underestimated, and immediate action is required to avoid further harm.
This could take the form of identifying at-risk groups and improving social and financial support, treatment options, and harm reduction resources, with implementation varying by country.
COVID-19 Key Takeaways on Mental Health
- In the year leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, 19.86% of adults, or nearly 50 million Americans, were diagnosed with a mental illness.
- Suicidal thoughts are on the rise among adults in the United States. 4.5%of adults say they’ve had serious suicidal thoughts, up 664,000 people from last year’s survey.
- Since 2011-2012, the national rate of adult suicidal ideation has risen every year. This was a higher increase than in last year’s report, and it’s a worrying trend to see as the COVID-19 pandemic approaches.
- Major depression affects an increasing number of young people in the United States. In the previous year, 15.08% of youth had a major depressive episode, up 1.24 % from the previous year’s data. Up to 19% of youth aged 12 to 17 in the lowest-ranking states experienced major depression.
- In the United States, over 2.5 million youth suffer from severe depression, with multiracial youth being the most vulnerable. In the United States, 10.6% of teenagers suffer from severe major depression (depression that severely affects functioning).
- Youth who identified as more than one race had the highest rate of severe depression, at 14.5% (more than one in every seven multiracial youth).
- Over half of adults with mental illnesses do not receive treatment, resulting in over 27 million untreated adults in the United States. 67% of adults with mental illnesses in Hawaii, the lowest-ranking state, did not receive treatment. Even in Vermont, the nation’s top-ranking state, 43% of adults with mental illnesses were not receiving treatment.
- Since 2011, the percentage of adults with a mental illness who report an unmet treatment need has risen every year. In 2019, 24.7%of adults with mental illnesses say they have unmet treatment needs.
- More than 60% of teenagers with major depression do not receive any kind of mental health treatment. Even in the states with the best access, nearly one-third of people do not receive treatment. Nearly three-quarters of youth with depression in Texas, the lowest-ranking state for this indicator, did not receive mental health treatment.
- Fewer than one out of every three youth with severe depression receives consistent mental health care on a national level. Even among youth who receive some treatment for severe depression, only 27% receive consistent care. Tennessee, the state with the lowest rate, has a rate of only 12%. Maine (ranked first) had 65.6% of youth receive consistent treatment, which is 16%higher than Vermont (49.7%), which is ranked second.
- Adults and children in the United States continue to be underinsured. Uninsured people with mental illnesses account for 11.1% of the population in the United States. The indicator increased by 0.3%t from the previous year’s dataset, marking the second year in a row that it has increased since the Affordable Care Act’s passage (ACA). A total of 950,000 children had private insurance that did not cover mental health services, accounting for 8.1% of all children.
- Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of substance use among youth and adults were rising. In the previous year, 7.74% of adults and 4.08% of youth in the United States had a substance use disorder. In comparison to the previous year’s report, adult substance use increased by 0.07%, while youth substance use increased by 0.25 %.
COVID-19 on Young Adult’s Mental Health
Young adults have faced a variety of pandemic-related impacts, such as university closures and lost income, which may have contributed to their poor mental health.
During the pandemic, a higher-than-average proportion of young adults (ages 18-24) experience anxiety and/or depressive symptoms (56%). Young adults are more likely than other adults to report substance use (25% vs. 13%) and suicidal thoughts (26% vs. 11%).
Young adults were already at high risk of poor mental health and substance use disorder before the pandemic, but many did not receive treatment.
Job loss is linked to increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem, as well as higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide, according to research from previous economic downturns.
Adults in households with job loss or lower incomes report higher rates of mental illness symptoms than those in households without job or income loss during the pandemic (53% vs. 32%).
COVID-19 on Race, Children and Women’s Mental Health
During the pandemic, research revealed concerns about children’s mental health and well-being, particularly among mothers, who are facing challenges such as school closures and childcare shortages.
Women with children are more likely than men with children to experience anxiety and/or depressive symptoms (49% vs. 40%).
Women have reported higher rates of anxiety and depression than men in general, both before and during the pandemic. The pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact on the health of people of color.
Non-Hispanic Black adults (48%) and Hispanic or Latino adults (46%) are more likely than non-Hispanic White adults to report anxiety and/or depressive symptoms (41%). In the past, these communities of color have had difficulty getting mental health care.
Many vital workers continue to face difficulties, including a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus than other workers.
During the pandemic, essential workers are more likely than nonessential workers to report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder (42% vs. 30%), begin or increase substance use (25% vs. 11%) and have suicidal thoughts (22% vs. 8%).
Those who are newly diagnosed with mental health or substance abuse disorders, as well as those who were already diagnosed before the pandemic, may require mental health and substance abuse services, but they may face additional obstacles as a result of the pandemic.
Mental Illness and Substance Abuse During the Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been more concerns about mental health and substance use, as well as concerns about suicidal thoughts.
In January 2021, 41% of adults said they had symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, which is about the same as it has been since spring 2020. There were 13% and 11% of adults who said they had thought about suicide in the last 30 days because of the coronavirus.
This was in a survey that was done in June 2020. Suicide rates have been on the rise for a long time, and the pandemic could make things even worse for them. People died from drug overdoses more often from March to May 2020, when pandemic-related lockdowns began.
How To Take Care Of Our Mental Health In This Pandemic
We are all changing our daily routines as countries restrict movement to reduce COVID-19 infection. Not having physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues is a new reality for many people who work from home or home school their children.
All of us face challenges in adapting to new lifestyles, coping with virus fears, and worrying about family members who may be at risk. Their presence can exacerbate mental health issues.
The good news is that there are many things we can do to improve our mental health and the mental health of others.
Take note of national and local authorities’ recommendations. Keep up with the latest news from trusted news channels like local and national TV, radio, and newspapers.
Decrease your exposure to distressing news. Seek out the latest information at specific times of the day, if needed. Social contact is vital.
You can keep in touch with loved ones by phone or online if your mobility is restricted. Avoid using drugs and alcohol to cope with fear, anxiety, boredom, and social isolation.
Donate food to those in your community who need it. Aid medical personnel. Thank healthcare workers and those responding to COVID-19 online or in your community. In uncertain situations, fear is normal. But fear can also hurt others. Remember: Be nice.