The idea that having to deal with COVID-driven social restrictions, concerns about illness, and mask mandates could cause problems with the public’s mental health is no longer theoretical. An article just published by JAMA Network Open reveals that some individuals started to have struggles as early as spring of 2020, the earliest time period covered by the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Civic Life and Public Health Survey. Researchers assessed psychological distress in four waves: April 7–13, 2020; July 7–22, 2020; November 11–30, 2020; and July 26–August 16, 2021. Psychological distress was measured using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, on which with a score of 13 or greater (out of possible 24) indicates serious distress. In each of those periods, 12% to 15% of participants acknowledged symptoms of serious psychological distress. Only half (51%) who reported serious distress in at least one survey saw any healthcare provider. That proportion shot up to 80% for participants who reported serious distress in all four waves, however. Reasons for not seeking care were not illuminated, but it stands to reason that lack of access was at least partially to blame. What would you do if a patient confessed to having a difficult time due to the pressures of the pandemic? JUCM looked at the issue of mental health concerns in patients presenting to urgent care outside the context of the pandemic. You can read Psychiatric Treatment as an Urgent Care Model in our archive right now.
The Pandemic Really Is Contributing to Mental Health Issues. What Can Urgent Care Do About It?