Act Now To Get Ahead Of A Mental Health Crisis, Specialists Advise U.S.

Suicide rates typically drop during natural disasters and other crises but then spike in the months or years after. So mental health specialists are looking to build psychological resilience now.
"The two most replicated, robust factors linked to suicide are economic change — downturn — and social disconnection," says Dr. Roger McIntyre, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. And both factors, he notes, are major hallmarks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Fanatic Studio/Gary Waters

Mental health specialists are working now to bolster the resilience of Americans who are suffering from feelings of despair — in hopes of preventing increases in suicides among people who are under increased pressure during the coronavirus pandemic.

Time is of the essence, public health researchers say. Experience with past natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, shows that a rise in suicide often happens in the months after the immediate physical dangers of the disaster have passed.

A report jointly published last week by two foundations that support mental health issues estimates that, unless steps are taken now, the increase in "deaths of despair" from alcohol, drugs and suicide could increase by 75,000 as a result of COVID-19.

"Undeniably, policymakers must place a large focus on, chief strategy officer of the Well Being Trust, which published the report in conjunction with the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care. "However, if the country continues to ignore the collateral damage — specifically our nation's mental health — we will not come out of this stronger."

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