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Mental Health Awareness: A Year in Review

 |  General

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month, and there’s a lot to be concerned about. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve seen more people suffering with various degrees of mental health disorders. Many factors are contributing to increased stress, including coronavirus-related health implications, lockdown-related economic implications, grief, civil unrest, and most recently, a surge in mass shootings.

The good news is that at Bayless Integrated Healthcare, our integrated approach allows us to take into consideration all aspects of a patient’s overall health and how those aspects may be affecting their mental health.

There’s no doubt, though, that we’re living through the biggest mental health crisis of our lifetime. Now that we’re past the one-year mark of the pandemic, let’s take a closer look at these mental health issues:

Anxiety and Depression

Since the pandemic began, 4 in 10 adults report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder, compared to only 1 in 10 before the pandemic, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The study found an even larger share of young adults reported these symptoms (56%) as well as adults in households with job loss or lower incomes. Additionally, 1 in 4 essential workers has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder since the start of the pandemic, according to the American Psychological Association.

Domestic Abuse

Data on domestic abuse is particularly difficult to study given that many victims do not report the crimes to police. The pandemic stay-at-home orders have also further isolated victims from outsiders who may otherwise see signs of abuse or violence – the problem could be worse than we know. According to the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice, domestic violence incidents rose in the U.S. by about 8.1% after pandemic-related lockdowns and The World Health Organization has called domestic abuse a “shadow pandemic” as, globally, 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence.

Substance Abuse

The number of individuals and families dealing with addiction issues is expected to increase substantially the longer the pandemic goes on. Addiction does not discriminate, and while there is an uptick in alcohol abuse, we are seeing an alarming rate of drug abuse as well.

At least 87,000 drug overdose deaths were reported from October 2019 to September 2020, a 29% increase from the year before, according to the CDC. The latest numbers surpass even the yearly tolls during the height of the opioid epidemic and mark a reversal of progress against addiction in recent years.

Suicide

It’s too early to know the impact of Covid-19 on suicide, particularly as more people struggle with long-term effects of the virus. While some research suggests that suicide rates decreased at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we can look back several decades and see that previous pandemics have been associated with increases in suicide rate overall.

Certain vulnerable populations, like the elderly, may struggle more with isolation, depression and anxiety. The pandemic has also been difficult for children and teens who have had disruptions in education and extracurricular activities.

A recent KFF study found that young adults are more likely than all adults to report suicidal thoughts (26% vs. 11%) and essential workers are more likely than non-essential workers to report suicidal thoughts (22% vs 8%). If you or someone you know is struggling, there are several resources available including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

As we continue to navigate life in a pandemic, keep in mind that many people are still processing the past year. It is important to remain vigilant as we reacclimate to a “new normal” and be mindful of those around us who may be facing mental health issues.

There’s more good news — our emotional and behavioral health services are also available via virtual care, which is sometimes known as telehealth. New patients can call Bayless Integrated Healthcare at 602-777-6337 for a free, 15-minute wellness consultation. You can also click here to make an appointment online. Remember, if you are experiencing a crisis, please call 911 immediately.