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Is There a Looming Mental Health Crisis?

The question: Is there a looming mental-health crisis? is one that is on many people’s minds. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a “powder keg” of mental-health problems ranging from substance abuse to post-traumatic stress. And the consequences are not just limited to individuals; these conditions can affect communities as well. Many studies are beginning to point to the aging population and a burgeoning middle class.

One recent study found that the stress caused by the coronavirus is negatively affecting the mental health of more than half of U.S. adults. This second pandemic may be our collective PTSD and a mental health reckoning. Whether it’s the coronavirus or the ongoing financial crisis, these issues are negatively affecting our society. If we fail to take action, the consequences can be dire.

In addition to the physical effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has the potential to affect the mental health of workers in the health care sector. Health care workers are already stretched thin and often fear their safety. Previous crises have contributed to the emergence of substance abuse, burnout, and PTSD in health care workers. And some have even quit their jobs as a result of the resulting consequences. The impact of a pandemic is unknown, partly because the effects of the epidemic cannot be detected until it has occurred. Also, the scope is larger and more people could be affected.

Whether we are facing a looming mental health crisis is a complex question. There is a growing conversation about racial inequality and mental health disparities. The COVID-19 epidemic has highlighted racial inequities and barriers to mental health care. Dr. Grasso has worked with employers to address these concerns. But despite the growing conversation around racial injustice, there are still major challenges facing our society.

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