Experts anticipate the pandemic will have long-term implications for mental health, STAT reports.
Anxiety and depression that arose during the pandemic will resolve for some people as they return to their pre-pandemic routines. For others, mental health issues that arose during the past year will persist, according to Susan Borja, the chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Dimensional Traumatic Stress Research Program.
“In the best of times, there is untreated mental illness,” Borja said. “Even a small increase in the rates of people with new or worsening mental illness is going to be a problem.” Surveys have shown the percentage of people reporting anxiety or depression spiked at the beginning of the pandemic and has remained high. Experts say they have seen increases in sleeping problems and misuse of alcohol and other substances.
The mental health needs of the country stemming from the pandemic will strain an already burdened mental health system, said Jessi Gold, a psychiatrist at Washington University in St. Louis. “We are incapable of serving this entire population,” Gold said. “We’ve never had a good system, and we’re going to have a system that’s only going to become more broken with this need.”