COVID 19 and Mental Health

March 8, 2022
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COVID 19 and Mental Health

COVID 19 and Mental Health

write about 2 -3 paragraphs, what impact do you think COVID-19 is having or will have on mental health?

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a share that has been largely consistent, up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019 (Figure 1). A KFF Health Tracking Poll from July 2020 also found that many adults are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. As the pandemic wears on, ongoing and necessary public health measures expose many people to experiencing situations linked to poor mental health outcomes, such as isolation and job loss.

This brief explores mental health and substance use during, and prior to, the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on populations that were particularly at risk for experiencing negative mental health or substance abuse consequences during the pandemic, including young adults, people experiencing job loss, parents and children, communities of color, and essential workers. We draw on KFF analysis of data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (an ongoing survey created to capture data on health and economic impacts of the pandemic), KFF Health Tracking Poll data, and data on mental health prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Key takeaways include:

Young adults have experienced a number of pandemic-related consequences, such as closures of universities and loss of income, that may contribute to poor mental health. During the pandemic, a larger than average share of young adults (ages 18-24) report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder (56%). Compared to all adults, young adults are more likely to report substance use (25% vs. 13%) and suicidal thoughts (26% vs. 11%). Prior to the pandemic, young adults were already at high risk of poor mental health and substance use disorder, though many did not receive treatment.
Research from prior economic downturns shows that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem and may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide. During the pandemic, adults in households with job loss or lower incomes report higher rates of symptoms of mental illness than those without job or income loss (53% vs. 32%).

This brief explores mental health and substance use during, and prior to, the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on populations that were particularly at risk for experiencing negative mental health or substance abuse consequences during the pandemic, including young adults, people experiencing job loss, parents and children, communities of color, and essential workers. We draw on KFF analysis of data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (an ongoing survey created to capture data on health and economic impacts of the pandemic), KFF Health Tracking Poll data, and data on mental health prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Key takeaways include:

Young adults have experienced a number of pandemic-related consequences, such as closures of universities and loss of income, that may contribute to poor mental health. During the pandemic, a larger than average share of young adults (ages 18-24) report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder (56%). Compared to all adults, young adults are more likely to report substance use (25% vs. 13%) and suicidal thoughts (26% vs. 11%). Prior to the pandemic, young adults were already at high risk of poor mental health and substance use disorder, though many did not receive treatment.
Research from prior economic downturns shows that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem and may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide. During the pandemic, adults in households with job loss or lower incomes report higher rates of symptoms of mental illness than those without job or income loss (53% vs. 32%).

Research during the pandemic points to concerns around poor mental health and well-being for children and their parents, particularly mothers, as many are experiencing challenges with school closures and lack of childcare. Women with children are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder than men with children (49% vs. 40%). In general, both prior to, and during, the pandemic, women have reported higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to men.
The pandemic has disproportionately affected the health of communities of color. Non-Hispanic Black adults (48%) and Hispanic or Latino adults (46%) are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder than Non-Hispanic White adults (41%). Historically, these communities of color have faced challenges accessing mental health care.
Many essential workers continue to face a number of challenges, including greater risk of contracting the coronavirus than other workers. Compared to nonessential workers, essential workers are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder (42% vs. 30%), starting or increasing substance use (25% vs. 11%), and suicidal thoughts (22% vs. 8%) during the pandemic.
Both those newly experiencing mental health or substance abuse disorders and those already diagnosed before the pandemic may require mental health and substance use services but could face additional barriers because of the pandemic.

Prevalence of Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder During the Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about mental health and substance use have grown, including concerns about suicidal ideation. In January 2021, 41% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder (Figure 2), a share that has been largely stable since spring 2020. In a survey from June 2020, 13% of adults reported new or increased substance use due to coronavirus-related stress, and 11% of adults reported thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days. Suicide rates have long been on the rise and may worsen due to the pandemic. Early 2020 data show that drug overdose deaths were particularly pronounced from March to May 2020, coinciding with the start of pandemic-related lockdowns.

As was the case prior to the pandemic, adults in poor general health (which may reflect both physical and mental health) continue to report higher rates of anxiety and/or depression than adults in good general health.1,2 For people with chronic illness in particular, the already high likelihood of having a concurrent mental health disorder may be exacerbated by their vulnerability to severe illness from COVID-19. Recently, a study also found that 18% of individuals (including people with and without a past psychiatric diagnosis) who received a COVID-19 diagnosis were later diagnosed with a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or mood disorders. Older adults are also more vulnerable to severe illness from coronavirus and have experienced increased levels of anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

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Mental distress during the pandemic is occurring against a backdrop of high rates of mental illness and substance use that existed prior to the current crisis. Prior to the pandemic, one in ten adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder. Nearly one in five U.S. adults (47 million) reported having any mental illness. In 2018, over 48,000 Americans died by suicide,3 and on average across 2017 and 2018, nearly eleven million adults reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past year. Additionally, deaths due to drug overdose were four times higher in 2018 than in 1999, driven by the opioid crisis.

There are a variety of ways the pandemic has likely affected mental health, particularly with widespread social isolation resulting from necessary safety measures. A broad body of research links social isolation and loneliness to both poor mental and physical health. The widespread experience of loneliness became a public health concern even before the pandemic, given its association with reduced lifespan and greater risk of both mental and physical illnesses. A KFF Health Tracking Poll conducted in late March 2020, shortly after many stay-at-home orders were issued, found those sheltering-in-place were more likely to report negative mental health effects resulting from worry or stress related to coronavirus compared to those not sheltering-in-place.

Some prior epidemics have induced general stress and led to new mental health and substance use issues. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, different populations are at increased risk to experience poor mental health and may face challenges accessing needed care.

Young Adults
Throughout the pandemic, anxiety, depression, sleep disruptions, and thoughts of suicide have increased for many young adults. They have also experienced a number of pandemic-related consequences – such as closures of universities, transitioning to remote work, and loss of income or employment – that may contribute to poor mental health. KFF analysis of the Household Pulse Survey finds that throughout the pandemic, a large share of young adults (ages 18-24) have reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder – 56% as of December 2020 – compared to older adults

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Posted in nursing by Clarissa