COVID-19 revealed the need to focus on mental health issues in the United States

  • Spencer Wiggins is a community and employee relations consultant and former chair of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.

The last two and a half years have been quite stressful. We had to face a global COVID-19 pandemicin which more than a million Americans died.

There has also been a broad political polarization in which Americans seem to be increasingly divided on politics, which has created some animosity between people who identify with different parties.

Couple this with the highest inflation rate in 40 yearsin conjunction with the high cost of food and fuel caused by a war with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which showed us that stress has no borders.

One in five Americans will experience an episode of mental illness in a given year. It should also be noted that one in five children – now or at some point in their life – has had a seriously debilitating experience of mental illness.

Listen to the Black Voices of Tennessee: Receive the weekly newsletter for powerful and critical think tanks.

This coincides with the fact that one in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression. As bad as the state of mental health was in this country before the pandemic, it has only gotten seriously worse.

Between isolation, stress, uncertainty, economic hardship and other factors, many of us have been pushed to our breaking point.

The National Impact of COVID-19 on Nationwide Mental Health

According to World Health Organization (WHO)the first year of the pandemic was marked by a massive increase in mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression.

In the first year alone, there was a 25% increase in the number of people suffering from anxiety and depression. Youth depression and anxiety doubled among people aged 15 to 24 in the United States

Hear more voices from Tennessee:Receive the weekly opinion bulletin for insightful and thought-provoking articles.

In addition, suicide has become the third leading cause of death, with almost 20% of high school students reporting having suicidal thoughts and 9% having attempted suicide.

We must confront mental illness

Mental illness does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of your position in life, from celebrities to ordinary individuals, young or old.

We must be prepared to confront this disease by bringing it out of the dark and into the light by increasing the availability of mental health care, advancing the research needed to develop the next generation of treatments, and expanding the health workforce. mental.

We must work together in an effort that will allow us to begin to build a process that respects and honors the importance of good mental health.

As a nation, we have taken the first step to openly addressing mental illness by establishing a foundation for people struggling with mental health crisis with the initiation of a new way of asking for help. By simply calling or texting the Suicide and Crisis hotline number 988, which is the beginning of reinventing this crisis.

This is just an important and vital start to ensuring that those in need receive help and support.

Spencer Wiggins is a community and employee relations consultant and former chair of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.


About Author

Comments are closed.