EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A study from a New Mexico State University professor shows a jump from 20 percent to 40 percent in depression and anxiety during the pandemic.
Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, a public health professor at NMSU, said there weren’t enough studies made about the effects of the pandemic on mental health in the U.S., which is why he decided to conduct it using parameters that define depression and anxiety in clinical trials.
“We have a large population of people who may go untreated and, eventually, we may end up seeing more drug use, suicides, instability, which is another pandemic within the pandemic — the pandemic of mental health problems,” explained Khubchandani.
There are several factors contributing to the poor mental health state, he said, and one of them is inaccessibility to mental health care.
He said even without the pandemic, every two out of three mental health illnesses will go untreated, but now with a strain put on the entire health care system, the numbers could be worse.
“Our financial, social support systems collapsed. People didn’t have enough help, there is food insecurity and many other stressors,” said Khubchandani.
Another finding and a new study he has been working on is about the effects of social media and news consumption on mental health.
He shared that the more we scroll through our social media feeds and keep soaking up more information from new outlets, the more anxiety it causes.
“It’s becoming like a clinical condition,” explained Khubchandani, saying how smartphones are not different than any other addiction.
Another interesting finding of the study was that the quality of news content didn’t affect the anxiety levels, but the quantity. He explained that it doesn’t matter if we watch or read information from a reliable source or the exact opposite, it’s how much time we spend consuming it.