‘Pandemic fatigue’ causing a national mental health crisis
There is no question, 2020 has been a year like no other. The pandemic has already brought with it a mental health crisis, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new report found that Americans are experiencing more coronavirus-related mental health issues than people in other countries. The CDC survey data reported that nearly 41% of respondents are struggling with mental health issues stemming from the pandemic.
The culmination of the coronavirus, economic and employment losses, childcare challenges, health concerns, and the upcoming presidential election has us in a state of uncertainty that is taxing on our mental wellness and has led to a mental health crisis in our nation.
Recent data from the Census Bureau shows that nearly a third of Americans are reporting symptoms of depression and anxiety or both. The current rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide have risen during the pandemic, which mental health professionals worry will worsen. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 18 million Americans experience depression every year. But the COVID-19 pandemic is causing that number to increase, with more than 50% of Americans saying that their mental health has been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
There are schedule guidelines for health screenings that detect illnesses before symptoms may even be present. From blood pressure, diabetes, breast and colon cancer, screenings can save lives. Mental health screenings are as important as any other health screening. Best of all, they’re free, non-invasive, and don’t require an appointment.
There’s no time like the present to take a simple, short screening to check on your mental wellness. October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month and online screenings are one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or others. Mental Health America’s website, www.mhanational.org, offers several online screening tests.
It’s important to note that screenings are not a professional diagnosis. But they are helpful in determining the presence or absence of depressive symptoms as a first step to seek out a referral for further evaluation if needed. Always contact your doctor or a qualified mental health professional if you experience five or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily routine.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Sleeping too much or too little; middle-of-night or early-morning waking
- Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
- Irritability, restlessness
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor or a mental health agency like Community Care Services if you need help. Many providers continue to see clients through remote TeleHealth services through a computer or a phone. Help is available.
Susan Kozak has been a licensed social worker for the past 35 years and currently serves as the executive director of Community Care Services, a position she has held since 2011.