A 'second wave' of mental health devastation due to Covid-19 is imminent, experts say

The coronavirus pandemic's connection to mental health is becoming more clear and Shelby Rowe, a bead artist in Oklahoma, knows that impact firsthand. CNN's Jacqueline Howard shares Shelby's story -- and ways to keep yourself mentally healthy amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Posted: Oct 12, 2020 8:01 PM
Updated: Oct 12, 2020 8:01 PM

While the world struggles to manage the initial waves of death and disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, there is mounting evidence accumulating that "a second wave" linked to rising rates of mental health and substance use disorders could be building, according to an article published Monday in the medical journal JAMA.

"A second wave of devastation is imminent, attributable to mental health consequences of Covid-19," wrote authors Dr. Naomi Simon, Dr. Glenn Saxe and Dr. Charles Marmar, all from New York University's Grossman School of Medicine.

"The magnitude of this second wave is likely to overwhelm the already frayed mental health system, leading to access problems, particularly for the most vulnerable persons."

READ MORE: People of color face significant barriers to mental health services

This second mental health wave, the researchers suggested, will bring further challenges, such as increased deaths from suicide and drug overdoses, and will have a disproportionate effect on the same groups that the first wave did: Black and Hispanic people, older adults, lower socioeconomic groups and health care workers.

"This magnitude of death over a short period of time is an international tragedy on a historic scale," the authors said. "This interpersonal loss is compounded by societal disruption."

Of central concern, the authors wrote, is "the transformation of normal grief and distress into prolonged grief and major depressive disorder and symptoms of posttraumatic health disorder."

A grief that lasts longer

Prolonged grief, which affects approximately 10% of bereaved people, is characterized by at least six months of intense longing, preoccupation or both, with the deceased; emotional pain; loneliness; difficulty reengaging in life; avoidance; feeling life is meaningless; and increased suicide risk. These conditions can also become chronic with additional comorbidities, such as substance use disorders, the authors said.

The 10% affected by prolonged grief is likely an underestimate for grief related to deaths from Covid-19, and each death leaves approximately nine family members bereaved, the authors said. This means there are a projected 2 million bereaved individuals in the US and "thus, the effect of Covid-19 deaths on mental health will be profound."

Of particular concern for the authors is the psychological risks for health care and other essential workers. "Supporting the mental health of these and other essential workforce is critical to readiness for managing recurrent waves of the pandemic," the authors said.

Covid-19 is already affecting mental health

The pandemic has already brought with it a mental health crisis, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And a new report found that Americans are experiencing more coronavirus-related mental health issues than people in other countries.

The CDC survey data reported that nearly 41% of respondents are struggling with mental health issues stemming from the pandemic. The issues are related to the pandemic and to the measures set up to contain it, including stay-at-home orders and social distancing.

Nearly 41% of respondents reported one or more behavioral or mental health conditions, including substance use, symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts.

The number of Americans reporting anxiety symptoms is three times the number at this same time last year, according to the CDC, and several studies have shown that the pandemic has hit Black people and other people of color the hardest.

The pandemic has also taken its toll on caregivers, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The national analysis of at least 6.7 million caregivers insured by the association found that 26% of unpaid caregivers trying to balance work and family due to Covid-19 are feeling more stress and have poorer physical health than before the pandemic.

The NYU authors suggest the solution will require increased funding for mental health; widespread screening to identify those who are at highest risk; primary care physicians and mental health professionals who are trained in treating people with prolonged grief, depression, traumatic stress and substance abuse; and a diligent focus on families and communities, creatively restoring the approaches they have used to manage loss and tragedy over generations.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 306538

Reported Deaths: 5435
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41953849
Lake26872453
Allen17621295
Elkhart16905219
St. Joseph16524223
Hamilton12696167
Vanderburgh9552115
Tippecanoe844927
Porter813785
Johnson6231165
Vigo597979
Hendricks5944156
Monroe530349
Clark504077
Madison4858121
Delaware4820103
LaPorte457194
Kosciusko455739
Howard334975
Warrick319572
Floyd311477
Bartholomew308462
Wayne301367
Cass295831
Marshall293744
Grant262949
Noble249846
Hancock246551
Boone240254
Henry240237
Dubois234631
Dearborn215730
Jackson212633
Morgan204443
Gibson181725
Knox181419
Shelby178254
Clinton177821
Lawrence174047
DeKalb172829
Adams166422
Wabash158020
Miami157814
Daviess154643
Fayette147733
Steuben143513
Jasper142111
Harrison141824
LaGrange140129
Montgomery139027
Whitley133412
Ripley128114
Decatur124643
Huntington123510
Putnam123027
Randolph120719
Wells120428
White120321
Clay119822
Posey119616
Jefferson116216
Scott103219
Greene101353
Jay96413
Starke90621
Sullivan88916
Fulton83518
Jennings83214
Spencer8198
Perry81521
Fountain7738
Washington7417
Franklin68626
Carroll67913
Orange66628
Vermillion5993
Owen5987
Parke5606
Newton55312
Tipton55226
Rush5317
Blackford51912
Pike50318
Pulaski37710
Martin3515
Benton3362
Brown3353
Crawford2881
Union2671
Switzerland2555
Warren2382
Ohio2307
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371840

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin50231667
Cuyahoga36047741
Hamilton29931372
Montgomery20065228
Butler14769146
Lucas14317414
Summit13388316
Stark8792197
Warren819175
Mahoning7276299
Lake682666
Lorain643499
Clermont577248
Delaware556436
Licking549276
Fairfield538464
Trumbull5305147
Greene522364
Clark511464
Allen465485
Marion465251
Wood4491107
Medina447756
Miami425867
Pickaway399348
Columbiana347297
Portage344872
Tuscarawas328658
Wayne318793
Richland316638
Mercer289945
Hancock241337
Ross240759
Muskingum240210
Auglaize231031
Putnam224749
Erie224266
Darke223559
Ashtabula223253
Geauga203351
Scioto195915
Union19118
Shelby190615
Lawrence189438
Athens18864
Seneca180018
Belmont164929
Madison158918
Sandusky154229
Preble152621
Huron152318
Defiance139522
Holmes139139
Logan127816
Knox126318
Fulton124525
Washington121927
Crawford121516
Ottawa121130
Clinton106714
Williams10579
Ashland105222
Highland101317
Jefferson10124
Henry100023
Brown9925
Champaign9475
Jackson93112
Hardin91019
Fayette90317
Van Wert8976
Morrow8882
Guernsey83914
Coshocton82613
Perry78712
Adams78313
Pike7451
Gallia73513
Wyandot71216
Paulding64611
Hocking62616
Noble60223
Carroll45710
Meigs39012
Monroe31821
Morgan2575
Vinton2195
Harrison2023
Unassigned00
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