COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Resource Center

Source:

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Mental health in the time of COVID-19. Available at: https://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/events/mental-health-in-the-time-of-covid-19/. Accessed Feb. 1, 2021.

Disclosures: Healio Psychiatry was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at time of reporting.
February 01, 2021
2 min read
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Experts highlight psychological stressors linked to COVID-19 pandemic

Source:

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Mental health in the time of COVID-19. Available at: https://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/events/mental-health-in-the-time-of-covid-19/. Accessed Feb. 1, 2021.

Disclosures: Healio Psychiatry was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at time of reporting.
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Several experts provided an overview of the psychological stressors linked to the COVID-19 pandemic in a virtual presentation presented by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Some of the data points reflect the fact that the mental health crises that we faced before the pandemic have gotten worse,” Ken Duckworth, MD, chief medical officer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said during the presentation. “Virtually every country is reporting changes or disruptions in their service provision. It’s quite clear through a very comprehensive CDC study that over two in five [Americans are experiencing] anxiety, depression and trauma, and we're seeing more kids visiting emergency rooms and receiving services.”

Doctor Holding Test Tube That Reads COVID-19
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According to Duckworth, youths in the United States were exhibiting an uptick in anxiety and depression prior to the pandemic, and these mental health issues may be exacerbated by the effects of pandemic mitigation strategies.

“The desire to go out and learn your identity, find work, figure out what kind of people you can fall in love with and will fall in love with you, it's all outside of the house,” Duckworth said. “The isolation that we need to do to save lives is hitting them right at their developmental core. Although we had a challenge before, it has gotten worse, but the one silver lining is that this generation [of young people] can talk about it, and that can reduce shame and isolation.”

Shekhar Saxena, MD, FRCPsych, professor of the practice of global mental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, highlighted research findings regarding mental health effects by age group in the era of COVID-19.

“The studies are very clear: COVID-19 is impacting older age groups more, but the anxiety and depression are being faced by the young adults much more, which is exactly opposite of what we saw in some earlier crises,” Saxena said. “It is worth noting that it's the young adults and the children who are being impacted, and the effects are going to be long-lasting.”

According to Karestan Koenen, PhD, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, similarly to how individuals are following measures to protect one another's physical health, people also have a responsibility to aid in one another’s mental well-being.

“We each have to reach out, and one of the symptoms of being anxious or depressed is withdrawing,” Koenen said. “Take that time to reach out, to keep the conversation going and to ask people, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ It seems like a simple thing to say, but it's easy when we're all so stressed to forget to do that.”