How COVID-19 Has Taken A Toll On Americans’ Mental Health

Julian Michanie/Contributing Writer

As the death toll left behind by COVID-19 stays constant and the world adjusts to the new norms of quarantine, the questions and concerns regarding mental health have been ditched to the end of the list.

With elections right around the corner, politicians and experts in the CDC (Center for Disease Control) have tried to provide quick solutions to adjust the U.S. and normalize the unnatural. Different factors like the rise in unemployment and isolation that comes with social distancing, has led to people suffering from mental health issues at record breaking numbers. Over the course of 2020, mental health concerns have been completely ignored, and as a result have had a direct correlation to the plummet in people’s well being. 

According to a report published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan and non-profit group, roughly 47 million reported having some form of mental illness in the U.S. previous to COVID-19. Within the same group, 11 million people reported having severe mental illness. Since then, 53% of those suffering have reported that their state of mind has worsened since the outbreak, a majority of which are the result of previously mentioned factors.

“The coronavirus spreading around the world is calling on us to suppress our profoundly human and evolutionarily hard-wired impulses for connection: seeing our friends, getting together in groups, or touching each other,” said Nicholas Christakis, a social scientist and physician at Yale University. 

The subliminal messages officials are teaching kids and adults when using the term “social distancing,” is that we must not only stay 6 feet apart, but also remain disconnected from our friends and loved ones entirely. In an article published by the Science Magazine, they took a deep dive on the different effects caused by social distancing—most importantly the increased risk of mortality—which has been up 29% since the early stages of quarantine. Since COVID-19, young students and the elderly have been forced into their homes and locked away from family and friends, and even with ways to connect such as Zoom, Facetime and Skype, the physical aspect of most relationships has broken down.

Another aspect that’s plagued society is the economic crash due to the outbreak and the rise in job losses throughout the U.S. In May, CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) reported that the country has lost 20.6 million jobs since March, raising the unemployment percentage to 14.7%—the highest it’s been since the Great Depression. CIDRAP further shows that 30% of adults who stated that they lost their jobs had negatively impacted their stress level greatly.

President Donald Trump has effectively cleansed his hands of the blame regarding the economy by blaming China as the sole purpose of the spread of COVID-19 and the results of it. This left the problem practically unsolved and America’s psyche, and we are still paying the price.

“We have an economy that’s going to be booming… A lot of jobs are being produced,”  said President Donald Trump on Jul. 21. “The job numbers will be coming out shortly, meaning over the next week or so, and I think it’ll be a continuation of the last two months. The last two months have been incredible.”

With these promises not being kept and the situation staying the same, the pressure falls onto the backs of families who are left holding their breaths as the pressure keeps building. 

As 2020 continues to throw us obstacles, it’s imperative to take into account the mental health implications of what we do as a society. Instead of using the term “social distancing”, use “physical distancing.” A simple word allows us to respect everyone’s psychological well-being by staying safe, but not separating from the emotional connections we have with the others. By limiting screen time, going on walks outside, and reaching out to family and friends, we can limit the risk of exposure, but not at the cost of our mental health.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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Featured image by Jernej Furman on Flickr.

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