The Other Upcoming Pandemic


This Straight, No Chaser looks at mental health as an equivalent of an upcoming pandemic.

The general American population (and perhaps the world in differing amounts) is about to get a up close look at what is known as social determinants of health. With another 5.2 million Americans filing for unemployment (raising the number to over 22 million over the last four weeks), we are reaching a critical mass of economic hardship. As a result, someone (everyone) needs to prepare for the mental health ramifications of this.

Mental Health Challenges

Here are some predictable scenarios, each with mental health consequences:

• Depressions (and even suicide rates) will explode.
• Individuals prone to post-traumatic stress will have flare ups. Also, others will develop an equivalent of it.
• Americans will be forced to choose between food and medicine. Unfortunately, others won’t have either as an option and will become ill (and die) as a result.
• We will become angry. Anger will be expressed; in some cases rightfully so, and it will be displaced inappropriately. Predictably, we have already begun to see demonstrations.
• In some instances, there will be violence. This will range from domestic violence to outward expressions. Sadly, everyone’s fuse is shortening.

How Will You Cope?

There’s so much more, but you should get the point. The question, of course, is how will you cope with the upcoming pandemic of mental health issues? Do you have the means, inclination and access to get help? Let’s start with self-help measures you can take. From there, just being mindful that these issues will be arising may convince you to get help when you need it. Also take the time to look after those you care for. Actually engage people in conversations about their mental health. For years, I’ve told patients that when I asked them how they were doing, it wasn’t a pleasantry but an actual inquiry. Care enough to do the same. We’re all in this together. When things “return to normal,” maybe show a little empathy for those for whom this has always been their normal.

Straight, No Chaser Posts on Mental Health

Stress Management

Developing a Stress Management Plan

Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome in Communities

Depression: How to Avoid it and When to Get Help

Suicide Risks and Prevention

How to Escape a Domestic Violence Situation

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