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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The mental health pandemic

COVID-19 has brought many people a change in lifestyle. Some people have lost touch with things that they previously loved. They are doing less of the things that once contributed to their quality of life. For example, less people are working out, less people are hanging out with their family and friends, less people are traveling, and so on. Of course, this is all for good reason. However, such changes have contributed to the mental health pandemic that we are witnessing simultaneously with the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a new wave of individuals that are suffering from depression and anxiety due to the virus and the changes it has brought to our society.
People are being less social and finding themselves more isolated. This has sparked loneliness that some people may have never really felt before, especially to such a great extent. Some people have begun to lose their routine which has impacted the way people view their life. Some feel like they have no purpose, something they felt pre-pandemic. This has especially become prominent among the thousands of individuals who have lost their job due to the virus, and to those who continue to struggle to find a well-paying job to support themselves or their household. My own friend has reached out to me expressing similar feelings to what I have read on this topic. If you are not suffering from these mental struggles, then someone close to you may be. This problem is much more significant than people may first think to believe.
In an article by the Kaiser Family Foundation, they compare reports of the average share of American adults who reported having symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depression between 2019 and 2021. From January to June of 2019, 11 percent of adults reported suffering from anxiety or depression. Then in January 2021, this number had almost quadrupled to 41 percent. This huge increase comes in consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is most daunting about this mental health pandemic is that it is not affecting only one group. It is impacting many groups. In KKF’s article, they explain how young adults “have experienced a number of pandemic-related consequences, such as closures of universities and loss of income” (1). It was reported that 56 percent of young adults reported that they were suffering from anxiety disorder and/or depression during the pandemic (1). Compared to adults, young adults are twice more likely to report substance use (25 percent vs. 13 percent) and suffering from suicidal thoughts (26 percent vs. 11 percent) (2). 
Adults are also suffering in this mental health pandemic. During the pandemic, “adults in households with job loss or lower incomes report higher rates of symptoms of mental illness than those without job or income loss (53 percent vs. 32 percent)” (1). Moreover, many parents, especially mothers, are struggling with school closures and lack of daycare. These factors have changed a lot of parents’ routines. Some have basically had to become full time teachers for their kids. And they now find little to no time for themselves. This has ultimately contributed to their mental health struggles.
In a survey conducted among 130 countries across WHO’s regions, “Over 60 percent reported disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable people, including children and adolescents (72 percent) [and] older adults (70 percent)” (2). Furthermore, “67 percent saw disruptions to counseling and psychotherapy; 65 percent to critical harm reduction services; and 45 percent to opioid agonist maintenance treatment for opioid dependence” (2). Due to the high demand of mental health experts, many people have either been cut off by their therapist or are struggling to even find one to begin with. Many struggling with substance abuse are even finding it difficult to find the right person to work with and are experiencing a lack of resources.
While U.S. politicians have struggled in the past to provide proper billing for mental health purposes, this current mental health pandemic is surprisingly not going unnoticed by politicians. In KKF’s article they talk about how “The Consolidated Appropriations Act [that was] signed into law in December 2020 includes about $4.25 billion in funding for mental health and substance use services” (1). Hopefully, we will begin to see more resources being provided to the public to combat this growing issue of mental health.
If you are struggling with your mental health, do not be afraid to talk to someone you are closest to. Just as my friends have come to me to vent about their issues, I have been able to do the same to them and express myself when needed. It has helped tremendously and has helped me feel less alone in my problems, knowing that others feel the same.
You can also explore HHS’s article “Mental Health and Coping during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic”, where they put a long list of links to resources for different groups and for different struggles. For example, they provide links to help with stress relief, for grieving during the pandemic, for veterans and military personnel, etc. It has some helpful information, and I would highly recommend taking a look at it. If you are struggling with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. This line has people who are ready to genuinely listen and help in the best way they can, because they do care. No matter who it is, or how you do it, please reach out to someone. You are not alone during these hard times.

  1. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/
  2. https://www.who.int/news/item/05-10-2020-covid-19-disrupting-mental-health-services-in-most-countries-who-survey
  3. https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/mental-health-and-coping/index.html