COVID-19 for Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ensuing economic downturn, have had a negative impact on many people's mental health and created new barriers for those who already suffer from mental illness and substance use disorders. Throughout the pandemic, approximately 4 in 10 adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a share that has remained relatively consistent. According to a July 2020 KFF Health Tracking Poll, many adults are reporting specific negative effects on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), as a result of concern and stress about the coronavirus. As the pandemic progresses, ongoing and necessary public health measures expose a growing number of people to situations associated with poor mental health outcomes, such as isolation and job loss.

A recent study also discovered that 18% of people (both with and without a prior psychiatric diagnosis) who received a COVID-19 diagnosis were later diagnosed with a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or mood disorders. Older adults are also more vulnerable to severe coronavirus illness and have reported higher levels of anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

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