Coronavirus: CDC study finds patient mental health worsening

August 19, 2020

Substance use and suicidal ideation are on the rise.

As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues, the mental health of patients is deteriorating, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study looked at data from June 24 to 30 and found that U.S. adults are reporting considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions in connection to the pandemic, with younger adults, racial and ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers saying they have experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.

According to the study, there were increased reports of symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased between April and June as compared to the same period in 2019. About 41 percent of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition related to the ongoing pandemic.

A further 13.3 percent of respondents say that they have increased their substance use to cope with the stress or emotions related to the disease while 10.7 percent of respondents reported seriously considering suicide in the 30 days prior to completing the survey. That number is significantly higher (25.5 percent) among respondents between the ages of 18 and 24, and unpaid adult caregivers (30.7 percent), according to the study.

In response to this, the CDC recommends that public health authorities responding to the pandemic should increase intervention and prevention efforts in order to address these mental health conditions and efforts in the community, like communication strategies, should prioritize young adults, racial and ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers, according to the study.

“Markedly elevated prevalence of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions,” the study says. “Identification of populations at increased risk for psychological distress and unhealthy coping can inform policies to address health inequity, including increasing access to resources for clinical diagnoses and treatment options.”