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The Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health

Could anyone have been prepared for what 2020 was about to throw at them? It was a year that started off promising, yet quite early on it took a sharp turn that no one could have imagined. Even as news stories about COVID-19 began to circulate, most people were unaware that our world would soon be facing a full-blown pandemic. 

Each month that we rolled into seemed to get scarier. States were shutting down, flights were canceled, and many businesses were forced to close their doors. Even Disneyland closed down! A simple trip to the grocery store was no longer simple. Mask mandates were being enforced, causing a huge division among pro- and anti-maskers. Families were not only separated to help decrease the spread of COVID-19, but were also scrambling to find childcare due to schools being closed down. In some cases, families lost their incomes, as the industries they worked in were not deemed essential. 

Individuals who were considered high risk were forced into isolation. The elderly community could no longer hug their children or grandchildren, their only contact being with their nurses or visits with their loved ones via telephone. No longer do you see kids outside playing in groups, as they and everyone else were asked to shelter in place and to stay indoors to help prevent the spread of this disease. People’s hearts lie heavy with loneliness and stress.

The Endless Uncertainty

As we roll into the new year, our country is still facing the effects of the pandemic. New Year’s resolutions were most certainly different this year, as many opportunities are still not available to Americans nationwide (i.e. gyms, sports events, employment). With the continued uncertainty that many Americans face, we are still seeing the negative effects this pandemic has had on our mental health.  

The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for highly significant levels of psychological distress, which include elevated rates of stress, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. This mental uncertainty and the ongoing economic recession have created new challenges for people who were already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. In a poll conducted in mid-July, 53% of U.S. adults reported that their mental health was directly impacted due to the excess stress over the coronavirus. Americans young and old alike are experiencing difficulty with sleeping and eating. U.S. adults also reported having an increase in alcohol consumption and substance use.

How Much of an Impact Are We Talking About?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s, prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, mental illness ranged from 17-21% for U.S. adults. This includes depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and any other self-reported mental or neurological disorder. By May, 34.5% of adults reported to be struggling with anxiety or depression. As we rolled into July, there was another spike – 40.1% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder. Additionally, in a recent study it was found that 13.3% of adults reported that they were experiencing new or increased substance use as a means to manage the stresses attributed to the coronavirus. The ongoing stress and constant barriers associated with the pandemic have also contributed to the 10.7% of adults who reported that they were now experiencing thoughts of suicide. 

What Can I Do If I’m Negatively Impacted?

As we begin a new year, the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 is still very much in full swing. It is important to know that this is much too large a problem for us to take on by ourselves. The feelings of sadness, fear, loneliness, and stress that you may be experiencing due to the financial strain COVID has put you in are valid and understandable. This is a trying time for us all, and we are all still trying to figure things out. It is crucial to remember that you are not alone. When you are consumed by the negative emotions caused by this pandemic, reach out. We can still do our part to socially distance while taking care of ourselves in ways that matter. 

By October 2020, only 7.8% of adults were receiving mental health treatment, compared to 16.1% at the end of 2019. Individuals who need medical assistance, including mental health treatment, should always reach out. If you are in a rural area or are unable to receive treatment face to face, telehealth services are readily available. Through your smartphone or other devices, you can receive mental health assistance from a licensed therapist and get prescribed medications. Your mental health should always be a priority.


Just because we’re rolling into a new year doesn’t mean the long term damage of 2020 has gone anywhere. The pandemic that made itself known around the globe continues to have adverse impacts on mental health. There are many people who are struggling every day due to the ongoing crisis. From the loss of jobs, affected family members, or the weight of uncertainty, the world continues to be left in turmoil. Reports show that COVID-19 has caused an increase in people who struggle with stress, depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders.  Individuals can still do their part to social distance without neglecting their mental health. Your mental health matters and it should not be left untreated. You do not deserve to fight this battle alone, nor do you have to. RECO Intensive wants to be there to help you become the healthiest version of yourself. Call us today at (561) 464-6533.

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