Canaan, CT – Between a global pandemic and a contentious election cycle, the need for Americans to prioritize their mental wellness and address mental illnesses has never been more imperative. For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) encourages individuals to reinvest in their emotional well-being this World Mental Health Day, on October 10th. The many financial, environmental, and social stressors associated with the events of 2020 highlight that now is the time for society to place the same value on mental health as it has done on physical well-being.
While the full extent of the damage caused by the COVID-19 outbreak will not be known for years to come, the devastating mental health impact of the pandemic is becoming increasingly clear. A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in August 2020 revealed that 40 percent – nearly half – of Americans surveyed in June said that they struggled with their mental health or substance use. This rate is likely to increase as more Americans take the necessary precautions to further reduce the virus’s spread by physically distancing themselves from their friends and neighbors. The more individuals self-isolate, the more likely they are to feel lonely, fearful, and even hopeless.
Mental health has been a pervasive issue in the United States for years, with over 19 percent of American adults experiencing a mental health disorder in 2018, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI). Mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression often co-occur with substance abuse. NAMI found that in 2018, over 9 million U.S. adults (approximately 4 percent of the country’s population) experienced both a mental health and a substance use disorder. More alarming is that less than half (about 43 percent) of those dealing with mental illness end up participating in treatment.
“Due to societal stigma stemming from a lack of understanding about mental health and substance use disorders, many who are vulnerable end up suffering in silence rather than reaching out for support,” says Seon Kim, LMFT, Clinical Director at Mountainside treatment center. “The pandemic has exacerbated concerns about pursuing treatment for safety reasons, but many providers have adapted to the growing demand for therapy by offering telehealth sessions, which allow clients to receive critical assistance while following the CDC’s recommendations for social distancing.”
Those who suspect that they are suffering from a mental health disorder should consult with a therapist, who can help them understand the underlying causes of their condition as well as establish positive coping mechanisms moving forward.