But this international crisis continues and Americans are struggling to adjust to the strain of our new reality.
New psychological data taken during the pandemic shows the nation’s mental health is languishing, according to data released this week as part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Suicidal ideation has been on the rise among young people since last year, with up to one in four people aged 18 to 24 seriously considering suicide in the 30 days leading up to the survey, according to the report, in which researchers interviewed 5,412 adults in the United States between June 24 and 30.
In the general U.S. population, the CDC reported that 11% of adults surveyed had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days before completing the survey. Among those who identified as black or Hispanic, the numbers were worse: 19% of Hispanics reported suicidal thoughts and 15% of blacks reported suicidal thoughts.
The pandemic is a new kind of challenge
“Previous events had a beginning, a middle, an end,” said Vaile Wright, senior director of healthcare innovation for the American Psychological Association. “People cannot disconnect from this. ”
Unlike events like September 11 or hurricanes, the coronavirus pandemic is not just something people watch on the news, limited to a specific time and place. It’s all over the place and it doesn’t seem to have an end date.
“No one is immune from the stress of the pandemic,” Wright said.
Add in the pressures of the economy, increased control over racial injustice and the looming specter of a presidential election, and it’s hard for many to think things could go well.
The emotional burden weighs more heavily on those who said they had been treated recently for mental or emotional issues, according to the CDC report. In particular, stress weighs disproportionately on young people.
“We constantly hear that young people are having difficulties and going through difficult times,” she said.
There are ways to ask for help
At the individual level, Wright noted that the main pillars of psychological health include eating healthy, staying active, getting enough sleep, and maintaining social connections.
“A lot of times when we’re stressed it’s hard to come up with a game plan,” she said. “Friends and family play this role. “
But finding healthy ways to virtually socialize may require being intentional. Passive flipping through social media or “doom scrolling” does not constitute meaningful or supportive social interaction, Wright said.
If you’re on social media, it’s best to try and engage directly or respond to others, she said. In particular, if someone you know or love stops engaging, it can be a sign that it’s time to reach out.
“You can say things like ‘I’m worried about you’ and ask them if they eat, sleep and take care of themselves,” Wright said.
You can encourage them to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. This process is actually now a little easier during the pandemic, Wright explained, citing data from the APA that 75% of mental health care providers have switched to telehealth.
“Providers are available and we know teletherapy is working,” she said.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention recommends that those in need of emotional support related to Covid-19 to call the Disaster Hotline (800-985-5990) or text TalkWithUs at 66746.
And if you are going through a suicidal crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text line by texting HOME at 741741 for help.
Even if you’re not in crisis, it’s crucial to find ways, though often virtually or physically far apart, Wright said, to maintain connections with each other and do what we can to support each other. others before someone goes into crisis.
Many were doing well in the spring as the country entered the pandemic, she said. And the sanity of the nation now compels us to recall that same spirit.
“As a community, we collectively need to re-amplify,” Wright said.