COVID-19 Reveals Urgent Need for Universal Mental Health Care

By | April 26, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically disrupted every aspect of life for everyday people, ratcheting up stress across all families:

  • The mandate to #StayHome, being physically distanced from work colleagues, beloved family and friends, and our community touchpoints
  • The fear and risk-management of contracting the COVID-19 virus, for ourselves and our families
  • The economic shock or either losing our jobs, seeing our savings eroding from 401(k) plans, losing our health insurance, or all of the above
  • If we’ve kept our jobs in the pandemic, the novel work environment at-home — with children afoot, some of whom are now forced to be home-schooled while working-at-home has its own challenges
  • Growing political and social discontent, driving further chasms between Americans across party identification, socioeconomic strata, and geographies (rural/urban, “red state vs. blue state,” etc.); and finally,
  • The front line of health care workers — physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, emergency department personnel, et. al. — as well as the “new heroes” in food and “stuff” distribution, from truckers to grocery store staff to the postal service and express deliverers — facing heroic tasks to help people fight the coronavirus in hospitals, or put food on their family tables.

In this pandemic crisis, and whenever “after” will be, people — health citizens, all — face greater levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Alcohol and gun sales are up since the word “pandemic” was pronounced in February 2020, and consumers have taken to scratch baking for comfort feeding at home. Exercising is down, smoking is up.

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This calls for a re-think of health care in America, with mental health care a universal need. My essay in Medecision explains the demand side for mental health in America, and calls-to-action to address the challenge.

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