Mental health services are nearing collapse as nearly half of Americans are reporting mental distress associated with the pandemic.
“When diseases strike, experts say, they cast a shadow pandemic of psychological and societal injuries. The shadow often trails the disease by weeks, months, even years. And it receives scant attention compared with the disease, even though it, too, wreaks carnage, devastates families, harms and kills.”
That means that as societal conditions worsen, suicides rise. Hoping to mitigate the coming ‘shadow wave’ of mental illness, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is coordinating a response.
Healthcare workers, especially, are being hard hit. Although used to dealing with trauma, many healthcare workers are reporting that they feel overwhelmed by the pandemic. Much of this stress is associated with nurses acting as the only connection between dying patients and their families:
“That’s very taxing, too,” she said. “The emotion is high, the stress is high. And some of [the nurses] said the day goes by, or the shift goes by, and they just feel empty by the end of it.“
Studies on the mental health effects of Covid-19 healthcare workers are already underway. In March, a study was published in JAMA, which reports that : “among 1,257 healthcare workers working with COVID-19 patients in China, 50.4% reported symptoms of depression, 44.6% symptoms of anxiety, 34% insomnia, and 71.5% reported distress. Nurses and other frontline workers were among those with the most severe symptoms”.