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: 728811

Reported Deaths: 13405
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion996911740
Lake53548966
Allen40529675
St. Joseph35596550
Hamilton35536408
Elkhart28470441
Tippecanoe22375218
Vanderburgh22293396
Porter18701307
Johnson17923378
Hendricks17199315
Clark12943191
Madison12612339
Vigo12437246
Monroe11873170
LaPorte11856210
Delaware10667186
Howard9895216
Kosciusko9390117
Hancock8260140
Bartholomew8058155
Warrick7777155
Floyd7653178
Wayne7035199
Grant7032174
Boone6687101
Morgan6557139
Dubois6150117
Marshall6016111
Dearborn580077
Cass5794105
Henry5699103
Noble559883
Jackson501172
Shelby490696
Lawrence4522120
Harrison435072
Gibson434792
DeKalb427185
Clinton427053
Montgomery423688
Whitley395239
Huntington390080
Steuben385557
Miami381166
Knox371890
Jasper364747
Putnam359660
Wabash353479
Adams341054
Ripley339170
Jefferson329281
White313554
Daviess296299
Wells291381
Decatur284792
Fayette279562
Greene277885
Posey271333
Scott265653
LaGrange265570
Clay259447
Washington240332
Randolph239781
Spencer232131
Jennings229849
Starke215953
Fountain212046
Sullivan211442
Owen198756
Fulton194840
Jay193630
Carroll188520
Orange182654
Perry182637
Rush173025
Vermillion168843
Franklin167835
Tipton162845
Parke146116
Blackford134632
Pike133734
Pulaski116645
Newton107734
Brown101941
Crawford99514
Benton98514
Martin88615
Warren81815
Switzerland7858
Union71010
Ohio56511
Unassigned0414

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1082815

Reported Deaths: 19428
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1258081400
Cuyahoga1119722115
Hamilton799721205
Montgomery514061014
Summit47145945
Lucas42119788
Butler38338584
Stark32273906
Lorain24997481
Warren24274298
Mahoning21546588
Lake20653369
Clermont19761238
Delaware18512133
Licking16418212
Fairfield16176199
Trumbull16032468
Medina15268264
Greene15063244
Clark13983299
Wood13080189
Portage12839203
Allen11639232
Richland11349199
Miami10670217
Muskingum8803133
Wayne8793211
Columbiana8778229
Pickaway8564121
Marion8523135
Tuscarawas8473244
Erie7888154
Hancock6914127
Ross6846155
Ashtabula6805170
Geauga6686148
Scioto6406101
Belmont5881167
Union570848
Lawrence5549102
Jefferson5525151
Huron5430119
Darke5355123
Sandusky5347120
Seneca5282121
Athens519158
Washington5155109
Auglaize490784
Mercer480385
Shelby469293
Knox4486110
Madison435661
Putnam4278100
Fulton422469
Ashland421789
Defiance419697
Crawford3975107
Brown394157
Logan381676
Preble379598
Clinton372163
Ottawa366679
Highland355062
Williams339275
Champaign331658
Guernsey315653
Jackson312551
Perry294950
Morrow284939
Fayette281950
Hardin270864
Henry268666
Coshocton265257
Holmes2603101
Van Wert243463
Adams237852
Pike237634
Gallia235349
Wyandot231055
Hocking215362
Carroll191547
Paulding172640
Meigs144840
Noble133337
Monroe132042
Morgan108423
Harrison108137
Vinton83115
Unassigned02
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Rain moves in overnight into Sunday morning and looks to hang around much of the day, likely forcing Mother's Day plans indoors
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