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  • Why The Coronavirus Pandemic May Worsen Mental Health Issues

    woman sitting on a chair at home during coranavirus pandemic thinking

    With the end far in sight, Americans are beginning to recognize both the potential and yet ever-present mental health implications of COVID-19

    What began as a mere two-week hiatus from work has now spanned into an all-consuming marathon that threatens our health, our work, and nearly every aspect of our present lives. It’s no wonder why mental health concerns, including substance abuse, are worsening.     

    Studies have shown that COVID-19 has wreaked a slew of mental health issues across the nation. These mental health struggles do not only span from coast to coast but to all age groups and all nationalities. Everyone has been affected. 

    With so many Americans struggling, it’s worth noting and discussing not only the why but the how behind the potential “second wave” of mental health concerns set to arrive due to COVID-19. 

    Why Mental Health Could Worsen

    According to a recent Oxford University study, researchers found that COVID-19 survivors are more likely to develop a mental illness. Their findings showed that within 90 days, 20 percent of survivors were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. 

    This suggests that the mental health ramifications of COVID-19 are real, especially upon the survivors. Similarly so, the ripple effects of this disease on society as a whole are causing equal if not greater harm on overall mental health. 

    Jobs & Unemployment

    A PEW research study, conducted six months after the initial outbreak, showed that one in four U.S. adults had trouble paying their bills. 

    Rampant job loss and economic shutdown have caused countless Americans to scramble for their livelihood and greater survival. This inherent stress can easily cause high levels of anxiety and depression. 

    When your livelihood becomes threatened, feelings of hopelessness quickly set in. These emotions, although incredibly human and valid, can spike mental health struggles almost overnight. People that otherwise may have been stable are now finding their moods erratic. 


    The CDC recommendations continue to remain the same: wash your hands, wear a mask and socially distance. This last point, however, can spark very dire outcomes when it comes to mental health. 

    An individual struggling with a mental health condition needs support. Therapists and counselors know that human connection is vital to mental and emotional well-being. 

    Yet with social distancing mandates still in place, many people are not getting the direct human support that they need. 

    Additionally, there are now countless individuals who have never had significant mental health struggles prior to this point, but are now struggling, and lack the much-needed human connection and mental health education necessary to combat mental illness. 

    Safety & Anxiety

    When a human being senses a threat, the body responds. Oftentimes the body will release stress hormones in an effort to defend itself. This hypersensitive response is designed to protect you from harm. 

    With global pandemics such as COVID-19, a similar response can occur. Every surface you touch could be infectious, every human interaction could turn dangerous, and your livelihood may be imminently threatened. 

    These constant risks to your safety can cause anxiety to skyrocket, perhaps even develop into a full-blown mental illness. 

    Lack Of Answers & Guidance

    Another significant trigger when it comes to mental health is lack of structure or guidance. Mental health treatment programs often prescribe identifying your triggers as soon as possible. Understanding what causes you upset mental turmoil is key to maintaining overall well-being. 

    Yet, since the onset of COVID-19, countless states have had differing safety mandates. The federal government has also had varying pieces of advice when it comes to health and safety standards. 

    This general lack of clarity and structure can easily trigger an individual with a mental illness. You are not only combatting your regular everyday ups-and-downs but now the added pressure of a deadly virus that you may not understand. 

    How You Can Make A Difference

    COVID-19 has the potential to worsen mental health issues, but our toughest battles bring out our greatest strengths. This trying season has alerted so many to the importance of mental health like never before seen. 

    We as a nation are opening the discussion on mental health and simultaneously breaking down the stigma that surrounds it, all because of this pandemic. 

    There are now countless resources specifically tailored to helping those struggling with mental health and substance abuse due to COVID-19. If you or a loved one are struggling, know that you are not alone—it’s OK to not be OK. 

    Help and support are available. Do not be afraid to reach out. To learn about we can help, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Alliance on Mental Illness - COVID-19 Information and Resources

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on July 22, 2022
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