America’s Mental Health: COVID-19’s Long Term Toll

News

Recent survey finds half of Americans feel the pandemic is having an effect on their mental health, and the implications could be long lasting. NBC's Sarah Dallof reports.

(NBC News) – A recent poll finds nearly half of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. 

Mental Health America is seeing a spike in people taking their online screenings.  
 
“In younger populations, nearly half of those who screened are screening at the level of severe anxiety,” says president and CEO Paul Gionfriddo.
 
Long term effects will likely ripple across all age groups.   

Those include sleep disturbances, hyper vigilance, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and upticks in substance abuse, relapse and suicides, resulting in a possible ten to 20 percent increase in demand for mental health services. 
 
“We have to be honest and recognize that if we ignore this, or think that the mental health problems will go away on their own, they’re not going to do that because they never have,” Geonfriddo says.
 
The “CARES” act signed in March included $425-million for mental health services, and advocates are pushing for more in future stimulus bills. 
 
At home, experts suggest americans make mental health a priority now. 
  
“You cannot have health without behavioral health,” says Dr. Patrick Bordnick, dean of Tulane University’s School of Social Work.

Tulane has put together a website with self care resources, whether that’s seeking mental telehealth or substance abuse services, or smaller steps like establishing healthy new routines.

“These were designed so we can all take that mental break, just relax, give our systems time so we’re not in that anxiety state already,” Dr. Bordnick says. 

To take Mental Health America’s screenings, click here.

To explore Tulane’s Self Care resources, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.