The Mental Health Damage Caused by the Pandemic

photo of person reach out above the water

 

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. 

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.

a woman rests her head on another person's shoulder

Young Adults | Photo by Külli Kittus

Other reports from the World Economic Forum (WEF) indicated that young people under age 34 experience a moderate to high level of pandemic distress when compared to older individuals. The WEF further reported that 18-34 year olds are the most likely to report job loss and reduced income — which perhaps explains the higher rates of pandemic stress among this age group.

The report also explained that individuals with high-related pandemic stress are 40 times more likely to have significant levels of anxiety and are 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.”

Across the Atlantic, the U.K. is experiencing the virus’ second wave. With experts suggesting that the U.K. could face 50,000 cases a day, 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.

United Kingdom flag near green leaf tree during daytime

United Kingdom flag | Photo by Emily Wang

Another 15% reported feeling hopeless, and 11% said they have panicked in the previous two weeks. Similarly with reports from the CDC, Mental Health Foundation also found that there is a rise in the amount of people who have experienced suicidal thoughts.

The Center of Mental Health warned that the pandemic induced economic crisis and high unemployment rates could potentially pose even more risk, and increase suicide rates. 

The center also reported that health and frontline workers are at greater risk of developing mental health problems due to pandemic. And it is estimated that 20% of COVID-19 survivors who received intensive care will experience PTSD.

Sadly, for one teenager, the psychological torture of the pandemic was unbearable.

Finn Kitson, 19 | Photo Credit: Kitson Family | Retrieved from: Daily Mail

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, who was a student at the University of Manchester in Manchester, England, was pronounced dead at the scene by officials. Officials also 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.S.: If you are in a crisis, visit www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/immediate-help or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s helpline number which is avaialble 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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: J. Laura

Emerald contributor since July 2020
Journalist and contributor for Emerald; covering the social, cultural, political and medical side of cannabis and other (mostly sensitive) issues. For any collaborations or tips, email me at [laura@emeraldmg.com].

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