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Even when the pandemic is over, negative mental health impacts will persist – WATE 6 On Your Side

Posted: January 30, 2021 at 11:48 am


by: Michelle Robertson, Nexstar Media Wire

The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health across the world. (Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health across the world.

According to a CDC study from August, at least 40 percent of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse in June, three months after the nationwide lockdown first started.

The study found an increase in anxiety and depression, trauma and stress-related disorders, substance use and suicidal ideation. A shocking 10.7 percent of study respondents said they had considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey.

But what comes after the pandemic? Will the negative mental health impacts persist?

According to Dr. David Cates, a clinical psychologist and Director of Behavioral Health at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha, There will be a substantial percentage of people with lasting effects.

The literature suggests it depends on a whole variety of variables whether you lost someone or contracted COVID-19 yourself but we expect there will be some post-traumatic stress disorders and potentially stress and anxiety. There are unfortunately some people who will continue to experience effects.

Cates knows what hes talking about. He works as a behavioral health consultant for the National Quarantine Unit and the Nebraska Biocontainment unit, where people exposed to biohazards, such as Ebola, can come to quarantine. Hes seen firsthand the effects of quarantine on people.

There have been a variety of national surveys looking at rates of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms in the population at-large as well as suicidal ideation, and we do see higher rates of psychiatric morbidity in the general population, he said.

Cates has a few suggestions for people struggling right now:

But if someone is struggling to the point where they cant complete daily functions, including work responsibilities, its time to seek out professional help.

Whether you cant function or youre having intrusive memories or youre using drugs and alcohol more than usual, those are all indicators that you should seek professional treatment, he said.

But Cates stresses the importance of having hope. When looking at disasters, like hurricanes and tornadoes, the majority of people get through it and end up being okay.

Inside the word emergency is emerge, Rebecca Solnit writes in her book Hope in the Dark, on overcoming disasters, from an emergency new things come forth. The old certainties are crumbling fast, but danger and possibility are sisters.

Cates seems to think Solnits words ring true.

Its important to have hope, he says. When theres so much bad news, hope can really get us through a lot. There is a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the pandemic.

If you or someone you care about are having difficulty in pandemic or otherwise, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at (800) 273-8255.

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Even when the pandemic is over, negative mental health impacts will persist - WATE 6 On Your Side

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