The psychological mind games that COVID-19 unveils are beyond the capabilities of us humans. Ever since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic on March 11th, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more American adults are experiencing mental health issues.
The CDC described that 40.9% of adults reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition — including anxiety, depression and symptoms of trauma- and stressor-related disorders (TSRD) — related to the pandemic.
The Pandemic’s Effects on Younger Americans
There is also an increase in substance use and suicidal ideations. Younger adults, minority groups, essential workers and unpaid adult caregivers experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, according to the CDC.
Other reports from the World Economic Forum (WEF) indicated that people under age 34 experience moderate to high levels of pandemic distress compared to older individuals. The WEF further reported that 18-34 year olds are the most likely to report job loss and reduced income. That may explain the higher rates of pandemic stress among this age group.
The report also explained that individuals with high pandemic-related stress are 40 times more likely to have significant levels of anxiety. They are also 20 times more likely to experience symptoms of depression. However, as the COVID-19 health crisis continues, these rates could rise. The WEF explained that “younger adults and people of racial and ethnic minorities have carried higher psychological burdens from the pandemic so far, and we have yet to see the long-term effects that could transpire as a result.”
The U.K.’s Second Wave
Across the Atlantic, the U.K. is experiencing the virus’ second wave. Experts suggest the U.K. could face 50,000 cases a day. Therefore the U.K. will have to prepare for more restrictions. But, experts worry that the amount of people with mental health conditions will also increase along with the infection rates.
Reports from a U.K.-based mental health organization, Mental Health Foundation, indicated that as of August 2020, 45% of the U.K. population felt anxious or worried within the past two weeks. Also, one-in-five people reported feeling lonely and afraid in the previous two weeks.
Another 15% reported feeling hopeless, and 11% said they have panicked in the previous two weeks. Similarly to the CDC‘s reports, theMental Health Foundation also found that there is a rise in the amount of people who have experienced suicidal thoughts.
The Center for Mental Health warned that the pandemic–induced economic crisis and high unemployment rates could pose even more risk, and increase suicide rates. They also reported that health and frontline workers are at greater risk of developing pandemic-related mental health problems. And it is estimated that 20% of COVID-19 survivors who received intensive care will experience PTSD.
Anxiety and Support During Lockdown
Sadly, for one teenager, the psychological torture of the pandemic was unbearable.
Nineteen-year-old Finn Kitson died in his university’s residence hall after suffering from “severe anxiety” during a COVID-19 lockdown on parts of the campus on October 8th, Daily Mail reported.
Kitson, a student at the University of Manchester in Manchester, England, was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials said that his death was not suspicious.
Kitson’s father, Michael Kitson, an economist at the University of Cambridge, shared his devastation on his Twitter account.
“He was 19 with this whole life before him,” he said. “If you lockdown young people because of COVID-19 with little support, then you should expect that they suffer severe anxiety.”
As such, Kitson’s father urged people to “give anything you can towards mental health charities.”
U.K.: If you are in a crisis, visit www.gmmh.nhs.uk/crisis-care/ or call the 24/7 helpline number at +44 800 953 0285.
Written by: Laura Arman