By: HOLLY HARTZELL-THOMAS
Since the devastating spread of Covid-19 there has been a dramatic spike in mental health issues in the United States. The people of our country get anxiety over leaving their houses’, and even touching their groceries, knowing that they could possibly contract Covid-19. The country is feeling isolated so much so that the National Health Council reported more than 21,000 people were considering suicide or self-harm. The isolation may be helping contain the virus but it’s not helping mental health, the number of people that contacted the hotline run by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, increased from 1,790 in April of 2019 to 20,000 in April of this year. That is more than a 1,000 percent increase from that time last year, so the country is struggling to stay positive when the future is hazy in times like these.
The stress of the virus isn’t only affecting people in their homes, there have also been reports of two New York healthcare workers having taken their own lives after seeing how the virus tears families apart and takes the lives of the patients they had before they even left the ambulances. The healthcare workers at Elmhurst, one of the many New York city hospitals, are also feeling the effects of the pandemic. Angelyn Bannor, an Elmhurst healthcare worker, said “I couldn’t handle it. It’s not physical, but emotionally, it was very hard,”. There is a new concern for healthcare workers that helped in Covid-19 cases, psychologists say that they could develop post traumatic stress disorder(ptsd), which is a long term psychological disorder. After witnessing deaths and life threatening exposure many times in a single work day, New York psychologist Paula Madrid is now working with about 2 dozen healthcare workers who are suffering from insomnia, and anxiety. The educational(ED) psychologist, Dr. Suzzane Bentley said that there are certain types of fear when you let them out, you can never bring them back in and that they need to keep their brave faces on to help the patients.
A new way to get help is an online therapy company called Talkspace. Many people have been utilizing it, because there was a 65 percent increase in clients since the middle of February. The co-founder and CEO of Talkspace, Oren Frank said, “People are really afraid.”. The demand in their services almost exactly follows the geographic pattern of the virus. Which makes it difficult to provide all of the services people need when the congressional funds for mental health is a tiny portion of the emergency coronavirus funding, which is making it harder for behavioral health centers, which treat the most at risk portion of society, to keep their doors open and some have even started shutting down programs. The little funding mental health received is going to seriously harm society and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute made models on the unemployment rate that suggest that if the unemployment rate reaches 5 percent there could be 4,000 suicides and 48,000 drug overdoses. And if the unemployment rate reaches 20 percent, suicides could increase by 18,000 and overdose deaths could increase by more than 22,000. Even worse, a federal report was made in 2016 that stated, “every midwest state reported a shortage of psychiatrists,” and that will worsen by 2030.
As the Covid-19 disease continues to spread, the amount of mental health cases increases. In order to decrease those numbers, stay home and wear a mask when you go out so we can lessen the spread; as well as taking time out of your day to focus on self care and practice grounding techniques to help with your mental state in the coronavirus quarantine, because self care is a priority and a necessity not a luxury.