The coronavirus pandemic is dominating world news, and rightly so. The new virus has reached nearly every corner of the globe and continues to spread at a rapid pace, upending our daily lives and leaving us with a feeling of uncertainty. Anxiety is flooding people’s lives as they worry about loved ones, finances, availability of resources, and what the future holds beyond COVID-19.
Eleanor Castillo-Sumi, VP of Research and Program Development at Uplift Family Services has authored a whitepaper that examines the impact on youth and young adults and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact the disease has on mental and behavioral healthcare providers, and the lasting effects on the mental well-being of our communities.
More importantly, it underscores the critical need for continued financial support for mental and behavioral health organizations. This support is necessary now and well beyond the end of COVID-19 in order to restore mental well-being in our communities.
COVID-19 Affects Us All, But Not All in the Same Way
Immediate attention is focused on testing and finding a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus and slowing its spread. But, most of us will make it through this pandemic unscathed or make a full recovery from any physical health issues that arise.
For a substantial portion of the public, however, the upheaval of daily lives will constitute a traumatic event. The psychological effects will touch every person and all levels of our communities. Therefore, we cannot ignore the widespread mental health repercussions this pandemic will create.
These repercussions affect the youth and young adults and the families for whom Uplift Family Services provides services, as well as the greater mental and behavioral healthcare community. Studies suggest that post-disaster symptoms of mental health peak in the following year and improve for most. For many others, however, symptoms may persist for years to come.
While a virus does not discriminate against whom it affects, we know there are vulnerable communities that are more severely impacted than others. There are several factors associated with a greater risk of developing mental health problems after disasters that are being addressed by service providers during this critical time.
These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Low socioeconomic status
- Belonging to an ethnic/racial minority
- Low social support
- Having children
- Prior mental health problems
- Female gender
- Younger age
It’s important to remember that trauma is not limited to those who contract the virus directly and their immediate families. First responders, care providers, and many others will be negatively impacted by the events surrounding a pandemic, as well.
The Importance of Mental and Behavioral Healthcare Providers
It is precisely during a pandemic that healthcare providers are overextended and struggle to meet the demand for services. Compounding the problem is the fact that the very nature of COVID-19 makes traditional forms of healthcare service more difficult to provide. This has caused many providers to focus precious time and resources on radically overhauling the way in which they provide services, such as offering telehealth, and less time on actually providing these critical services.
It is crucial for financial sources to get creative in the ways in which they can support mental and behavioral health organizations during this time of upheaval. Governments and other stakeholders must understand the long-term outcomes and account for them when making decisions surrounding mental and behavioral health.
There is an immediate need for behavioral health services to help people cope with the pandemic and an on-going need to respond to the aftermath. Trauma will continue to be a pervasive public health issue.
Restoring community well-being in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is as important as providing healthcare services to those directly infected with COVID-19 virus. And, the long-term recovery of our communities is directly dependent on the availability of mental and behavioral health services and maintaining the solvency of behavioral health organizations in this tumultuous time is critical to the overall health of our society.
To read the whitepaper in its entirety, you can click here.