(US News) Flatten the Mental Health Curve by Fixing Our Broken Mental Health System
Updated: Apr 26
IN THE MIDST OF THE coronavirus pandemic, we are also on the brink of a mental health pandemic that our current system is not equipped to handle.
A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 45% of U.S. adults said the pandemic has affected their mental health, with 19% saying it has had a "major impact". A majority of Americans (57%) also said they were worried they could be exposed to COVID-19 since they couldn't afford to miss work and therefore couldn't stay home.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, roughly1 in 5 Americans experienced a mental illnesswithin a given year, with some10 million adults having serious thoughts of suicide. Now, these issues are poised to grow worse: In my psychiatry practice, some of my college-aged patients who were previously able to manage their depression and anxiety are crippled in paralyzing fear of going outside, or depressed about the loss of their year and uncertain of their future. My health care worker patients can't sleep, spending most waking hours consumed by the vicarious trauma of managing the pandemic. My older patients have voiced thoughts of suicide, as they do not want to be a burden on family or the health system should they test positive for COVID-19.
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