Coronavirus: New data shows pandemic wreaking havoc on Americans' mental health

The physical toll of COVID-19 has been devastating, but the pandemic is also having a severe impact on America's collective mental health, according to a new survey.
The physical toll of COVID-19 has been devastating, but the pandemic is also having a severe impact on America's collective mental health, according to a new survey.

Moreover, the effects appear to be on the rise.

Like many Americans already struggling with mental health, stay-at-home orders deepened the despair for 20-year-old college student Miriam Berman.

"You're stuck at home with your thoughts," she said. "You're surrounded by food and the feeling of being unmotivated and unproductive.

A new Census Bureau survey reveals the psychological impact of the coronavirus pandemic has rocked the nation more than the virus itself. A third of Americans say they're experiencing signs of clinical anxiety and depression.

"People losing their jobs, having housing insecurity, not sure where they're going to live or if they're having difficulty paying rent," Children's Hospital Los Angeles clinical psychologist Bridgid Conn said.

She added that it's not normal for so many people to feel depressed.

The data shows a stark difference when it comes to income. Nearly 70% of respondents who make less than $25,000 per year reported feelings of depression and hopelessness, compared to 38% who earn much more.

The virus is more likely to adversely affect the elderly, yet 48% of young adults reported mental health symptoms versus those much older.
"Rates of suicide ... suicide attempts are going up particularly among adolescents and young adults," Conn said.

Berman said, "I've been through some really dark times in my life. I didn't know if I'd lived to see 17, and now I'm 20 and I try to make every day as meaningful as possible."

She credits a strong support system and checks in regularly with her therapist who reminds her it's okay to feel sad.

"Feel what you need to feel," Berman said. "It's okay to not be okay."

Her advice is to ask for help.

Berman volunteers for a suicide hotline. While she's uncertain about her future, she is optimistic that things will work out.

"Humans are capable of surviving these intense emotions and things always get better," she said. "Even if it seems like they won't because they did in the past."
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