It was presumed last spring that restricted movements, isolation, and fear over a deadly disease would have a deleterious effect on the mental health of many Americans. That concern has now been validated in the form of a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows that the number of adults who reported recent symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder jumped 5% (from 36.4% to 41.5%) between August 2020 and February 2021. Those reporting “an unmet mental healthcare need” increased from 9.2% to 11.7% over that period. Increases were largest among Americans 18 to 29 years of age. The data were drawn from the responses of 790,633 people who took part in an online survey. Consider asking patients how they’ve been coping with the pressures of living in a pandemic, about changes in mood or outlook, and whether everyday habits (eating, ingesting drinking and other substances, sleeping) have been adversely affected. If you don’t already have referral relationships with local mental health professionals and crisis centers, now might be a good time to consider forging them.
A Year Into the Pandemic, It’s Time to Probe More Consistently for Mental Health Issues