The coronavirus pandemic has cost lives and jobs. The ‘invisible’ cost of this outbreak is the mental health toll on America’s population.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. Additionally, many children suffer from identifiable mental health problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that outbreaks can be stressful, and can cause changes in sleep or meal patterns, difficulty concentrating, or increased use of intoxicants.
People’s lives have been forever altered in the last few weeks. Americans – adult and children – are being forced to stay home, away from their friends or loved ones. Those going out are taking unprecedented safety measures to avoid contracting the virus. Almost everyone has to be constantly alert, and refrain from social gestures such as hugs, handshakes, and even fist bumps. Religious gatherings, too, have been banned in many states.
At the same time, we are listening to the constant flow of information about deaths and financial losses, with looming uncertainty about when life would go back to normal. The pandemic may end, but the mental health challenges would last for a long time.