Mental Health Awareness Month: Coping with depression and anxiety

Henrietta Strickland
October 1, 2020

Figures compiled by the Mental Health Commission show there were 125 suspected or confirmed cases relating to residents and staff across the 181 facilities it monitors on 22 May. The worse scores in young adults were especially notable, given that the virus has been more likely to kill the elderly or leave them critically ill. This makes them mostly irrelevant to mental health in the community.

We believe it is important to be aware of these struggles so that a response in the future can be more cohesive and organised and to highlight strategies that have worked well in regard to supporting mental health workers, like weekly support groups, supervision. However, only 40% those making $150,000 or more anxious at least several days, compared to 60% who didn't worry at all. Similarly, qualitative studies have documented negative mental health outcomes among health workers who fought Ebola in West Africa.

The findings by the Census Bureau echo growing evidence of accumulating mental harms among Americans. For example, a poll published by the Kaiser Family Foundation in April found that nearly half of respondents said the epidemic had impaired their mental health. A survey by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found people are experiencing anxiety and sadness more often than before the pandemic and are talking about mental health more frequently. "It would be unusual if you didn't feel anxious and depressed", Oquendo said. "It's not something you can see or touch, and yet the fear of it is everywhere", she said (Fowers/Wan, Washington Post, 5/26; Perano, Axios, 5/26).

According to the newspaper, the data is a result of the Census Bureau launching an emergency weekly survey of USA households at the end of April to measure the pandemic's effects on employment, housing, finances, education and health.

The mental health questions were taken from two screening tools called PHQ-2 and GAD-2, used by some primary care doctors to screen patients for depression and anxiety. That percentage is lower for the GAD-2. Without such action, Americans are ripe for a pandemic of depression and despair. A recently released United Nations policy brief, COVID-19 and the need for action on mental health, emphasizes that the pandemic aligns several mental health stressors: fear of contagion/dying, concern for health of family members, forced isolation due to quarantines, unemployment, and widespread financial distress. While doing the testing, patients who need further attention or are showing signs of distress would be referred to psychologists for additional treatment.

When asked about following up with respondents to the Census Bureau survey, CDC official Stephen Blumberg said, "It is not feasible, nor would it be appropriate, to provide any health advice to respondents on the basis of their responses". Statistics from 2019 indicate that around 3,000 new patients and 92,000 activities were observed past year, yet, less than two per cent of the employees and two per cent of the budget are invested in mental health at the governmental sector.

The World Health Organization (WHO) shared reports from different countries, showing the pandemic's increased impact on mental health.

In a statement, the commission said it would continue to update the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), the Department of Health and the HSE of ongoing risk-ratings of services across the country.

Jeffrey Geller is a psychiatrist, professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and president of the American Psychiatric Association. Among the first affected patients were drug addicts seeking rehabilitation at the Palestinian National Rehabilitation Center in Bethlehem; they were discharged so the centre could be converted into a corona centre; we already know that a few have relapsed, some have attempted suicide, while others went to prison during the pandemic.

"Knowing when you need a break and taking it". Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they text to 741741.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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