The health and financial costs of COVID-19 have resulted in widespread feelings of helplessness and overwhelming anxiety and despair in response to circumstances over which we have little or no control. Chronic exposure to severe stress in the absence of control among countless millions constitutes a perfect storm, with severe mental health consequences on a global scale, including increased rates of depressed mood, suicide, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Individuals who were already struggling with mental illness before COVID-19 are now facing even greater challenges… Historically, increases in rates of severe mental illnesses have often followed in the aftermath of national crises. For example, during the decade of the Great Depression from 1929 to 1939, the suicide rate rose from 13.9 to 17.4 per 100,000. Traumatic memories of surviving years of hardship during the Great Depression resulted in high rates of anxiety and depressed mood for generations. Although economic downturns disproportionately affected the health and well-being of the lower income segment of the population, all socioeconomic groups are negatively impacted.