Largest Increase in Mental Health Disorders in the US Reported

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Image by the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds

Recently, a survey conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has looked at the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on the mental well-being of adults in the US and has found that the increase in psychological disorders has been the largest to be reported.

More specifically, the researchers discovered more than three-folds of the adults in the US reported experiencing an increase in the levels of psychological distress and the symptoms of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

In fact, the percentage of people having elevated levels of distress increased from 3.9 percent in the year 2018 to 13.6 percent in April of 2020.

Secondly, the percentage in younger adults between the ages of eighteen to twenty-nine rose from 3.7 percent in 2018 to twenty-four percent in April of 2020.

In addition to these findings, the survey also showed that people from ethnic minorities as well as people with lower-incomes and lower socio-economic status also reported a massive increase in psychological distress.

Similarly, older adults, especially those over the age of fifty-five had a doubled risk of having distress and developing mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Contrary to the popular opinion, the researchers found that isolation due to the lockdown related to the coronavirus pandemic and loneliness was not the primary reason for the decline in mental health across all age groups.

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According to the findings of the survey, the percentage of people reporting an increase in loneliness only increase from 11 percent in 2018 to 13.8 percent in 2020, which is not a very big increase.

Instead, the findings, which are published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association in the form of a research letter, show that there are multiple ways in which the coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives of nearly all people in the US.

For instance, the pandemic and lockdown-related effects have spread fear amongst people of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 as well as of the issue of unemployment along with other financial issues.

Statistically, around twenty-nine million people in the US alone have filed for unemployment which means that economic uncertainty has played a fundamental role in the deterioration of mental health across the country.

The coronavirus pandemic has not only contributed to the development of mental health issues but has also limited access to possible sources of help as people are either too scared to visit hospitals for related help or do not have the economic resources.

“We need to prepare for higher rates of mental illness among U.S .adults post-COVID,” the researchers explained.

“It is especially important to identify mental illness treatment needs and connect people to services, with a focus on groups with high psychological distress including young adults, adults in low-income households, and Hispanics.”

To reach this conclusion, the researchers used NORC AmeriSpeak, which is an online survey panel, to examine the responses of around 1,468 participants, all of whom were aged eighteen and over for thirty days.

For diagnosing the symptoms of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression and estimate psychological distress, a scale that is known to diagnose mental issues with high levels of accuracy in clinical settings was used.

Then, the results of the survey were compared to the National Health Interview Survey, which was conducted in 2018 in order to note any changes that have occurred.

After doing so, the researchers found that psychological distress and reports of mental issues had significantly increased. According to researchers, these findings suggest that coronavirus pandemic can cause long-term mental health issues.

Therefore, along with the concern of coronavirus infection, mental wellbeing should also be prioritized and specific measures should be taken to avoid an upcoming mental health pandemic.

 

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