The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 May Linger — Not Because of the Virus Itself, But Because of the Financial and Social Aftermath

There’s no shortage of studies and surveys showcasing the mental health implications of COVID-19. For example, a recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that the recent pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health of 56 percent of adults.

While those who’ve contracted the virus face an increased risk of long-term mental health consequences, researchers are more concerned about the impact and aftermath of social and financial variables.

The Mental Health Implications of COVID-19 Among Vulnerable Groups

As stated in a recent article by The Atlantic, COVID is “not a normal mental health disaster.” When comparing the lasting mental health implications of SARS with COVID, researchers are concerned that secondary mental health effects will long outlast the pandemic and to a greater extent in comparison to SARS.

Cases of PTSD and anxiety are being reported in patients hospitalized with the virus — and vulnerable groups are also being observed closely, including healthcare workers and people who lost their loved ones due to the virus itself. Past research shows that following a natural disaster, rates of PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and domestic violence surge.

However, COVID is incredibly unique in that it has impacted all aspects of our lives — our health, finances, and social interactions.

The Economic Impact of the 2020 Pandemic

The KFF poll discussed above has uncovered the economic and mental health impacts of COVID. As a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak:

  • 26 percent of adults say that they have lost their job
  • 21 percent have had hours reduced
  • 13 percent have taken a pay cut

While looking at households, 42 percent of adults say that either they or their spouse/partner have experienced cut hours or job loss. Among these individuals, 41 percent say that the loss of income that’s resulted in a “major problem” and 29 percent say they have fallen behind in paying their bills.

As discussed, 56 percent of U.S. adults have reported increased stress due to COVID, all of whom have experienced at least one negative effect concerning their mental health. These effects include heightened anxiety, increased alcohol use, problems sleeping, or the worsening of chronic health conditions.

The Social Fallout of COVID, Particularly Among the and Young Adults

From a psychosocial perspective, researchers have been observing the impact of social isolation on American’s mental health. Most recently, it’s been shown that for some young people, the fear of social isolation is greater than their fear of the virus itself. That is why more and more people in their teens and 20s are contracting the virus in comparison to earlier in the pandemic.

Although it may seem as though social bonding is a luxury, there is actually a biological basis for the desire to socialize. Developing brains require social connection to feel secure — both with their personal identity and the world that surrounds them.

While young adults are most certainly voicing their opinions, the potential long-term risks of social isolation are impacting people of all ages. After all, humans are social beings. Just like hunger or thirst, there is a need to connect, and the pandemic has shown just how fundamental socializing is in our everyday lives.

Remember to Be Kind

At the end of the day, everyone is facing and coping with the pandemic differently. Just because restrictions are starting to loosen, does not mean that select individuals and groups are not struggling. That is why it’s important to remain empathetic of others and to remain kind to yourself. If your mental health is deteriorating, it’s important that you take action.

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