By Naomi Thomas and Sam Romano, CNN
While the world struggles to manage the initial waves of death and disruption caused by the #Covid-19 #pandemic, there is mounting evidence accumulating that “a second wave” linked to rising rates of #mentalhealth and substance use disorders could be building, according to an article published Monday in the medical journal JAMA.
“A second wave of devastation is imminent, attributable to #mentalhealth consequences of #Covid-19,” wrote authors Dr. Naomi Simon, Dr. Glenn Saxe and Dr. Charles Marmar, all from New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine.
“The magnitude of this second wave is likely to overwhelm the already frayed #mentalhealthsystem, leading to access problems, particularly for the most vulnerable persons.”
This second #mentalhealth wave, the researchers suggested, will bring further challenges, such as increased deaths from #suicide and drug overdoses, and will have a disproportionate effect on the same groups that the first wave did: #Black and #Hispanic people, older adults, lower socioeconomic groups and #healthcareworkers.
“This magnitude of death over a short period of time is an international tragedy on a historic scale,” the authors said. “This interpersonal loss is compounded by societal disruption.”
Of central concern, the authorswrote, is “the transformation of normal grief and distress into prolonged grief and major depressive disorder and symptoms of posttraumatic health disorder.”
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
A grief that lasts longer
Prolonged grief, which affects approximately 10% of bereaved people, is characterized by at least six months of intense longing, preoccupation or both, with the deceased; emotional pain; #loneliness; difficulty reengaging in life; avoidance; feeling life is meaningless; and increased #suicide risk. These conditions can also become chronic with additional comorbidities, such as substance use disorders, the authors said.
The 10% affected by prolonged grief is likely an underestimate for grief related to deaths from #Covid-19, and each death leaves approximately nine family members bereaved, the authors said. This means there are a projected 2 million bereaved individuals in the US and “thus, the effect of #Covid-19 deaths on #mentalhealth will be profound.”
Of particular concern for the authors is the psychological risks for health care and other essential workers. “Supporting the #mentalhealth of these and other essential workforce is critical to readiness for managing recurrent waves of the #pandemic,” the authors said.
#Covid-19 is already affecting #mentalhealth
The #pandemic has already brought with it a #mentalhealthcrisis, according to data from the #USCentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention. And a new report found that #Americans are experiencing more #coronavirus-related #mentalhealthissues than people in other countries.
The #CDC survey data reported that nearly 41% of respondents are struggling with #mentalhealthissues stemming from the #pandemic. The issues are related to the #pandemic and to the measures set up to contain it, including stay-at-home orders and #socialdistancing.
Nearly 41% of respondents reported one or more #behavioral or #mentalhealthconditions, including substance use, symptoms of #depression or suicidal thoughts.
The number of #Americans reporting #anxiety symptoms is three times the number at this same time last year, according to the #CDC, and several studies have shown that the #pandemic has hit #Black people and other people of color the hardest.
The #pandemic has also taken its toll on caregivers, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The national analysis of at least 6.7 million caregivers insured by the association found that 26% of unpaid caregivers trying to balance work and family due to #Covid-19 are feeling more #stress and have poorer physical health than before the #pandemic.
The NYU authors suggest the solution will require increased funding for #mentalhealth; widespread screening to identify those who are at highest risk; primary care #physicians and #mentalhealthprofessionals who are trained in treating people with prolonged grief, #depression, traumatic stress and substance abuse; and a diligent focus on families and communities, creatively restoring the approaches they have used to manage loss and tragedy over generations.