Addressing the critical need for long-term mental health data during the COVID-19 pandemic: Changes in mental health from April to September 2020

Cindy B. Veldhuis, Elizabeth D. Nesoff, Anna Laura W. McKowen, Dylan R. Rice, Hana Ghoneima, Angie R. Wootton, Elizabeth Lerner Papautsky, Danielle Arigo, Shoshona Goldberg, Jocelyn C. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite the large amounts of research currently being conducted and the high number of editorials warning about the potential mental health impacts, there is a stunning lack of longitudinal mental health data on the effects of the pandemic. Yet, the pandemic may have sizable long-term impacts on psychological distress and health behaviors—these effects may be long-lasting and may disproportionately affect some demographic groups more than others. Data came from a longitudinal international study of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on adults' psychological distress and wellbeing (N = 1567). We found high rates of depression (55% were diagnosable with probable depression at baseline), anxiety (65%), and risk for PTSD (51%). More than one-third of participants who reported that they drank alcohol indicated that their drinking had increased since the start of the pandemic. Over time, depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts and behaviors increased significantly, but acute stress symptoms decreased. Specific demographic groups (people of color and sexual and gender minorities) appeared to be at high risk of distress across analyses. Our findings suggest high rates of depression, anxiety, acute stress, and other signs of distress like isolation, hopelessness, and use of substances to cope—even at five-month follow-up. Our findings suggest a need to prioritize availability of, and access to, mental health care during both the pandemic and the recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106465
JournalPreventive Medicine
Volume146
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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