Demand for Behavioral Health Services Surging: The Effects of COVID-19 on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in the US

In the past half-year, there’s been an array of unprecedented societal hurdles placed in front of US citizens.

Suddenly, things that were once taken for granted, such as going to the office, socializing with friends, and purchasing essentials, are much more difficult. Moreover, there are questions about the struggling economy that’s resulted in mass job loss.

These issues are then compounded with the fact that the Coronavirus itself is still poorly understood and carries with it a measurable level of fear for many Americans even as we approach October. More than any time in recent memory, people are both worried about their own health as well as their family, friends, and surrounding community.

It should then come as no surprise that a KFF Tracking Poll conducted in Mid-July found that 53% of adults throughout the US reported worsened mental health. The rooted cause is worry and stress over COVID-19. That’s a steady rise compared to 32% from back in March when the question was first asked. 

This blog will further investigate how COVID-19 is proving to be a malignant threat to mental health.

How Has COVID-19 Specifically Impacted Mental Health?

Weakened mental health is akin to any virus or sickness. It trickles into the various facets of somebody’s life. The same way that flu, fever, or something severe like COVID can affect sleep, eating, existing chronic conditions, etc., so does mental health.

In further illustrating this issue, here are a few more poignant results from the previously mentioned KFF Tracking Poll:

  • 36% of adults reported difficulty sleeping due to COVID-19’s negative impact on their mental health.
  • 32% of adults said they’ve experienced adverse effects on eating habits because of the pandemic.
  • 12% of adults claim increased alcohol consumption/drug use and deteriorating chronic conditions because of Coronavirus-related stress.

These statistics are – of course – extremely concerning in a vacuum. However, the global crisis isn’t going anywhere for the time being.

Health measures are needed to help US citizens through these incredibly trying times. This will be progressively more important as the long-term negative impact of the pandemic makes itself more apparent.

Loneliness and Self-Isolation Are Primary Contributing Factors to Worsened Mental Health.

Data shows that households with adolescents or older adults (65+) seem to be suffering the most from sheltering in place during the pandemic. The adverse mental health impacts have increased exponentially since March.

While seniors and teenagers aren’t making up much of the workforce, this group’s parents/children have to keep everything afloat.

Breadwinners face another tremendous burden on top of trying to manage a struggling household. They must deal with the strong possibility of job loss in an economy that’s projected to get increasingly more volatile as the pandemic persists.

Job Loss is Linked to a Multitude of Mental Health Symptoms.

Over 50% of people polled who lost income or employment due to COVID-19 reported depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms. It’s a direct result of worry or stress over Coronavirus.

Note that those collecting lower income seem more susceptible to significant negative mental health impacts than people earning higher incomes.

Another consideration is workplace burnout for frontline workers who have to manage the anxiety of the heightened potential for virus exposure.

Exacerbating Drug-Use Problems

Even before the pandemic, drug overdoses had increased threefold across the US from 1999 to 2018.

Considering that substance abuse was already a critical problem, the fears and anxieties stemming from the pandemic, combined with isolation, mean these issues will drastically worsen.

What speaks to the above notion is that 13.3% of adults reported new or increased substance use to deal with Coronavirus-related stress.

Fulfill Any Behavioral Health Hiring Need

The US’s collective mental health is currently in a worse place than it’s been in recent memory. Living throughout the global pandemic has caused adverse damage to the mind-state of tens of millions of people who need help.

More than ever, tremendously talented and compassionate mental health professionals are required to help citizens get over this challenging hump.

Healthcare Recruiters International (HCRI) has access to an expansive network comprised of the most talented behavioral health professionals in the field.

Contact us today to fulfill your behavioral health staffing needs. Through these dedicated experts’ efforts, citizens can receive the treatment they need to see a better tomorrow.