Naomi Judd’s death highlights a national mental health crisis made worse by COVID-19 – The Hill

The story at a glance

  • The coronavirus pandemic is still exacerbating the country’s mental health problems, even after many restrictions were lifted and vaccines became widely available.

  • A survey in March found that 52% of young adults said they felt feelings of depression and hopelessness.

  • Country music star Naomi Judd died over the weekend after a battle with undisclosed mental illness.

Millions of Americans struggled with mental health long before COVID-19, but the pandemic hasn’t made dealing with mental illness any easier – an issue brought to light this weekend after the star’s death of country music Naomi Judd.

Judd was 76 and the mother of country music duo The Judds, performing for decades alongside her daughter Wynonna. Saturday, Wynonna and her sister Ashley announcement their mother had died, “of the consequences of a mental illness”.

Judd was among nearly 52.9 million Americans with mental illness, a statistic that has only increased since the pandemic began. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that the number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder rose from 11% in 2019 to 41% in 2021, as the pandemic entered its second year.


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Young adults have also particularly felt the social and psychological effects of the pandemic, having to deal with school closures, missed degrees and opportunities, and time spent with friends. It also means they have lost access to mental health care, social services and even food.

A recent Harvard University survey found that even after many COVID-19 restrictions ended, 52% of young adults aged 18-29 said they felt feelings of depression and hopelessness. Almost a quarter said they had considered self-harm.

This is in addition to the thousands of their families who are simultaneously experiencing job losses that have resulted in a loss of income. Many have even lost a parent, sibling or sibling to COVID-19, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimating that more than 140,000 American children have lost a primary or secondary caregiver due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 19 between April 1, 2020 and June 30. , 2021.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents to the Harvard survey agreed with the statement that “the United States is experiencing a mental health crisis.”

The KFF also noted that before the coronavirus pandemic, young adults were already at high risk for poor mental health and substance use disorders, and many were not receiving treatment.

Women have also been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with many bearing the brunt of school closures and lack of childcare. KKF found that women with children were 49% more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, compared to just 40% for men with children.

Communities of color are also associated with increased rates of depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem. During the pandemic, adults from job-losing or low-income households also reported higher rates of mental illness symptoms at 53%, compared to just 32% for those who did not lose a job or income. .

Health experts around the world know how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting mental health issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in the first year of COVID-19, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25%.

“The information we currently have on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health around the world is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a reminder to all countries to give more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting the mental health of their populations,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy attempted to do just that, issuing an advisory on a youth mental health crisis in December last year. He called for a “swift and coordinated” response with recommendations on how individuals can support mental health and wellbeing from birth to adulthood.

He also recommended that schools expand their social and emotional learning programs and hire and train more mental health staff. Healthcare organizations were also encouraged to implement the principles of trauma-informed care (TIC) and to systematically screen children for mental health issues and risk factors.

Murthy pointed out that mental health issues in children, teens and young adults were “real and widespread” even before the coronavirus pandemic and that “the future of our country’s well-being depends on how we let’s support and invest in the next generation”.

President Biden has also taken steps to strengthen the country’s response to the national mental health crisis, as part of his State of the Union address, including investments in the workforce in mental health, integrating mental health services into medical insurance coverage and limiting how social media targets children. in line.

Health and Human Services (HHS) also plans to launch a new mental health crisis hotline, 988, which will establish a nationwide network of local crisis centers to respond to calls and texts. The aim is to create a more community-based mobile crisis response and minimize the need for emergency department visits.

The American Psychological Association (APA) found that while the coronavirus has slowed since 2020, other stressors have added to Americans’ lives, such as rising inflation and the historic Russian invasion of China. ‘Ukraine.

In a poll conducted March 1-3, the APA found that 63% of adults said their lives had been changed forever by the COVID-19 pandemic, with continued hardship for vulnerable populations, concerns for child development in parents and unhealthy, ingrained coping habits.

“Living through historic threats like these often has a lasting and traumatic impact on generations. As a society, it is important that we ensure access to evidence-based treatments and that we provide help to all who need it,” said Arthur C. Evans, CEO of APA, in a press release.

“This means not only connecting people in distress to effective and efficient clinical care, but also mitigating risk for those who are more likely to experience challenges and engaging in prevention for those who are relatively healthy,” Evans said.


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Published in May. 02, 2022

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