Global mental health during covid-19 has decreased dramatically. So if the global pandemic has you feeling blue as well you are not alone. Many of us feel the same. But there is hope!
“Realizing that we are in for a long haul with COVID-19, in and of itself may be a game changer,” says Dr. George Everly Jr., a psychologist and professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Everly gives hope during the pandemic that has triggered a global mental health crisis.
“My message to parents is that your children rely on you. You must be that strength for them. Even when you think you can’t be strong for yourself, reach down deep inside and say, “This isn’t just about you; it’s about others as well. Everly has been studying the psychological impacts of disasters for more than 40 years. He has consulted in Hong Kong with SARS and Singapore with H1N1 and also with Ebola.
“I think we will come out of this pandemic better than we went into it. I would encourage people to understand that we’re in this together. Way back in the mid-1800s, Darwin told us that the greatest predictor of resilience was collaboration and cohesiveness. This is a time to reach out to each other. Be mindful about each other! Use the crisis to improve empathy and support. social distancing doesn’t have to mean anything more than physical distancing. We can stay socially close and reach out to each other in different ways.”
Hope comes also from Francis Collins the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. “At NIH, we are doing everything we can to keep our scientific mission going by supporting groundbreaking research into COVID-19 and a lot of other things. We’re also deeply committed to helping people manage stress and attend to mental health.
“We’re going to get through this, but get through it in a way that will change us. We will be changed by becoming stronger and more resilient, having learned some lessons about ourselves and about each other. We cannot simply hide our heads under our pillows and wait for this to pass. When you wake up in the morning, say to yourself: “I’m engaged in something that matters. I’m not just a passive victim of this terrible pandemic. I’m trying to do what I can and work toward getting us through.”
Let’s look at the statistics how on global mental health crisis during Covid-19 and see in how many different ways it impacts our daily lives.
- On a scale 1 to 10 where 1 is very relaxed and 10 is near panic, the average reported stress level for U.S. adults related to the coronavirus pandemic is 5.9. Compared to their general stress level of 5.4 and the average stress level of 4.9 reported in the 2019. This is the highest stress level since the survey began in 2007. (Source: apa.org)
Why this matters: In the words of Dr. George Everly Jr., a psychologist and professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health: “Hans Selye said, at any given point in time, we have a limited supply of what he called “adaptive energy.” In the best of conditions, this reservoir is quite high and will allow us to meet unusual challenges. However, I would suggest that the background noise of chronic issues that predated COVID-19 did begin to deplete that reservoir of adaptive energy, making us more vulnerable to things that turned out to be far more challenging than we thought.” Thus the longer the pandemic lasts the more vulnerable we all get and the higher the risk of a severe worldwide mental health crisis.
- US parents report an average covid stress level of 6.7 compared with 5.5 for adults without children. 46% even say their stress level is high compared with 28% of adults without children who say the same. (Source: apa.org)
Why this matters: More stress on adults equals less work productivity, negative health effects and much more stress in children. The longer the pandemic goes the more likely the probability that the stress gets chronic and has long term impacts.
- For 71% of all parents managing distance/online learning for their children is a significant source of stress. Furthermore 67% of parents with children ages 5-17 are worried that school closure increases their children’s risk of falling behind socially and emotionally. (Source: apa.org)
Why this matters: Policy makers need to be mindful about school closures to help take stress off families. Some counties in Florida for example offer face-to-to face classes and three different homeschooling offers. As a consequence social distancing is easier and families get pick options that work for them.
- Major sources of significant parental stress
- Basic needs (such as access to food and housing) stress 70% of parents compared with 44% of non parents.
- 66% vs. 44% feel stressed about access to health care services
- 63% vs. 43% are stressed about missing major milestones in their kids`lives like weddings and graduation ceremonies
Why this matters: Reminds us that parents need more support like better access to telemedicine to reduce stress levels.
- 67% of all Americans say the government response to coronavirus causes them stress. Parents again are more likely than those without children under the age of 18 to say this is a significant source of stress (74% of parents vs. 63% non-parents). (Source: apa.org)
Why this matters: Data above shows that especially lockdowns have had a very negative effect on people’s mental health. Therefore it might seem an easy measurement but at the same time it comes with a very high risk.
- 63% of Republicans and 73% of Democrats report that the government response to COVID-19 is a significant stressor. The government response as a source of stress is similar across geographic regions of the country, reported by the majority of residents in the Northeast (70%), Midwest (70%), South (65%) and West (64%). (Source: apa.org)
Why this matters: Stress levels don’t seem to depend on how close political close people are to the decision makers.
- 70% of Americans report that the economy is a significant source of stress. This is similar to their stress level during the recession in 2008 (69%) but much higher than 2019 (46%). (Source: apa.org)
Why this matters: This is very significant for priorities of politicians when making decisions on covid-19 restrictions.
- Hispanics are stressed most (37%) due to the pandemic compared with white (32%), black (32%), Native American (31%), and Asian (28%) adults. (Source: apa.org)
Why this matters: Government policies should consider racial approaches of support and intervention.
- Mental Health Development over time of the Pandemic in the US: March vs Mid-July: In March only 32% reported being worried and stressed over the coronavirus compared to 53% in Mid-July.
- 36% reported difficulty sleeping or eating (32%),
- 12% increased their alcohol consumption or substance use
- 12% report worsening chronic conditions due to worry and stress over the coronavirus
- 10.7% of adults reported thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days.
Why this matters: Regarding the fact that the pandemic lasts longer than expected we need to focus on trying to strengthen our mental health by trying to reduce stress levels as much as possible.
- 47% of people who were sheltering in place reported negative mental health effects compared to 37% among those not sheltering-in-place. (Source: kff.org
Why this matters: The more often people have to shelter-in-place the higher the risk of severe mental health challenges. Europeans are very likely to see those effects as some of them have had several lockdowns already.
- Depression and Anxiety get worse the longer the pandemic lasts. In May 34.5% of US adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder compared to June 36.5%; weekly average for July: 40.1%. In comparison, from January to June 2019, only 11% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. (Source: kff.org)
Why this matters: Policy makers need to find a response to those alarming numbers.
- 57 % of women are stressed compared with 50% of men.
Especially women with children under the age of 18 are more likely to report major negative mental health impacts than their male counterparts. (Source: kff.org)
Why this matters: Especially women and parents suffer mentally due to Covid-19. We need to be mindful about how we can support them or encourage them to ask for additional help during those stressful times.
- Mental Health is worse for people of poor health
62% of adults with fair or poor health status reported negative mental health impacts compared to 51% of adults with excellent, very good, or good health status. A large share of those with fair or poor health status reported major negative health impacts (38%). (Source: kff.org)
Why this matters: People of poor health are severely in danger due to the global mental health crisis during Covid-19.
- 13.5% of 16.000 German patients reported a reduced sleep quality, and 7.2% a moderate generalized anxiety due to the coronavirus pandemic.Especially media coverage and lockdowns have significantly negative effects on anxiety and sleep and thus weaken the immune system.(Source: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Why this matters: global mental health crisis during Covid-19Reminds us to be mindful about the quality and quantity of media information and how important sleep is for our health.
- 20% of all pregnant women infected with Covid 19 were admitted to ICU. The pooled proportion of preterm infants was 23.0 % . The most frequent neonatal complications were pneumonia and respiratory distress syndrome. The pooled percentage of infected neonates was 6.0 % (Source: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Why this matters: Helps us to be mindful about the situation of pregnant mothers and their threat of being infected by Covid-19.
- Distress and anxiety associated with COVID-19 pregnant women in Israel
- 87.5% regarding public places and transportation
- 71.7% had concerns over the possible infection of other family members
- 68.7% going for pregnancy check-ups (
- 59.2% being infected themselves,
- 55.4% the delivery
Why this matters: Global mental health during Covid-19 has especially effected pregnant women around the world. They suffer of much higher stress than they would under normal conditions.
- COVID-19 has caused disruptions on Mental, Neurological and Substance (MNS) Use Interventions/Services in many countries.
Percent of countries reporting disruption of MNS interventions/services
- 75-78%: workplace and school mental health programmes
- 67%: psychotherapy and counselling services
- 53%: overdose prevention and management programmes
- 30%: access to medications for MNS disorders
Why this matters: Reminds us to be aware that the situation of mental health patients has had a huge negative impact on people who had already been sick before the pandemic.
- Especially Services to vulnerable groups were significantly disrupted
- 35% Disruptions to emergency interventions, e.g. prolonged seizures; severe substance use withdrawal syndromes, delirium.
- Disruption to MNS services for vulnerable groups (% of countries) children and adolescents 72%
- older adults 70%
- women requiring antenatal or postnatal care 61%
Why this matters: Reminds us to be aware of the fact that vulnerable groups currently might need more community support to help them
- Countries have responded to the disruption of MNS services in multiple ways
- 70% telemedicine/teletherapy
- 68% helplines
- 60% training in basic psychosocial skills (e.g. Psychological First Aid and Basic Psychosocial Skills Guide
- 38% task sharing/capacity building
Why this matters: Many countries try to improve the global mental health crisis during Covid-19. If we know someone who needs more support, we know what kind of services to look for.
- The COVID‐19 Pandemic and Its Impact on Children in Domestic Violence Refuges (43%) reported that their clients believed the presence of children in the home during the day increased the risk of violence and abuse.
In addition, 57 per cent say that the coronavirus crisis itself was increasing stress for the abusers. As one respondent commented: The group the refuge staff reported being most concerned about was children, with a total of 83 per cent reporting this concern. (Source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Why this matters: Reminds us to be mindful about the situation of children and their higher risk of domestic violence. Motivates us to keep our eyes even more open and be willing to report potential incidents.
A Word From SimpleSavvySmart.com
Global mental health during Covid-19 has turned into a crisis. But there is no need to give up. Instead, consider reaching out for help via telemedicine or teletherapy. Use this special time to reach out to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers to get through this together.