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Doctor Predicts that Mental Health Pandemic is Likely

It is no surprise that mental health challenges are increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  As people abandon their everyday routines during quarantine, many wonder when restrictions will lift and if life will ever return to normal.  As an advocate for mental health, I often wonder if health officials are taking mental health risks as seriously as the present risks to physical health.  Perhaps you’ve found yourself pondering similar questions.

Another concerned mental health professional, Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz recently addressed the White House regarding this same issue.  She shared her thoughts on the pandemic as a psychiatrist.  The focus of her speech was to shed light on the lasting mental health challenges that could arise from the Coronavirus.

“As my physician colleagues on the task force have been careful to rightly note: Their perspective and advice centers on one aspect of the pandemic: virus containment.  However, even medically, it is not the sole perspective.”

Dr. McCance-Katz is the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Mental Health and Substance Use.  As the leader of SAMSHA, she is not only a psychiatrist, but also holds a PhD in infectious disease epidemiology.  Her unique background and experience allows her to speak with great clarity on wholistic health research and practices.

“The research literature is clear on the effects of quarantine and stay-at-home practices on mental health.  We know that the longer the duration of these orders, the greater the intensity of the mental health health problems experienced.  We also know that these symptoms persist for years to come, even once quarantine is lifted.”

Dr. McCance-Katz closed by saying, “If we ignore the reality of the enormous mental health strain we’ve put on our citizens, on the backdrop of an already over-burdened mental healthcare system, I’m saddened but certain that the next major public health crisis of our time will be that of mental and substance use disorders and it is not far behind.”

It is times like this that messages of mental health are needed most – especially to individuals that are more vulnerable to substance use, abuse in the home, and have previous mental health struggles.  Most days, you can find me live-streaming social and emotional learning lessons to students and grownups, from my office.  I sincerely believe that the current struggles we are facing offer the perfect opportunity to both learn and practice new skills in coping and persevering through challenges. 

As we move forward, I’m finding new ways to reach and support students, parents, educators and mental health professionals.  Contact us to learn to learn more about the innovative ways that we are building emotional resilience and helping kids take charge of their mental health.