The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on Americans’ mental health, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A survey conducted by the CDC found increased symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as more frequent instances of substance use and suicidal ideation among U.S. adults. The study found that racial and ethnic minorities, young people, essential workers and adult caregivers were all at an increased risk.
More than 40 percent of the respondents who completed surveys during June reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition, and 11 percent reported seriously considered suicide within the past 30 days.
It is important to note that while the survey results can be helpful for an overview of the situation, it can also raise more questions that provide answers. Such is the case for the prevalence of anxiety and depressive disorders . More people may be thinking about suicide, but no one knows if suicidal ideation is actually resulting in suicides as there is currently no data concerning how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the suicide rate.
According to mental health experts, the importance of the study is the spotlight it shines on vulnerable populations.
More than half of essential workers reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom, and more than 20 percent reported suicidal thoughts.
When many people think of essential workers, nurses and doctors first come to mind. However, essential workers stretch fay beyond the health care field. Factory workers, custodians, grocery store clerks, public transit operators and more are all considered essential workers. Despite being labeled as “essential”, many of these workers do not have job security and therefore put their health, as well as the health of their families and loved ones, at risk to make ends meet.
The percentage of Hispanic and Black respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide was significantly higher—more than double—than White respondents.
Hispanic respondents also reported a higher rate of symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder than whites.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online. Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support when you dial 741741.
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