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Covid's Effect on Mental Health

Tessa Harding

     In late June of 2021, 40% of adults in the United States have reported that they have been struggling with mental health or substance abuse. When the pandemic hit, everything was forced to shut down--school, work, extracurricular activities, restaurants--everything besides the essentials. Regulations on mandating the use of masks and practicing social distancing were put into place. The national center for Chronic Diseases Prevention and Health Promotion goes on to explain that “Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety” (CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). There was an abrupt halt of all social events including events at restaurants, bars, stores, and more. People were unable to go out and do things to enjoy their life. 

     The sudden isolation from the Coronavirus pandemic has issued a drastic influx of problems such as domestic violence and the number of opioid overdoses. Measures to reduce the spread of the virus such as staying at home as much as possible are rightly warranted, however, these conditions create a situation where intimate partner violence can run rampant. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that there has been “a 20% increase in IPV globally due to quarantines and lockdowns.” For example, isolation at home increases the amount of time sexual assault victims are exposed to their abusers. 

     Crisis hotlines are receiving more calls than ever before. The Los Angeles suicide and mental health hotline alone has been receiving 8000 percent more telephone calls than before quarantine. Not only is the coronavirus, itself, taking the lives of thousands, but the numbers also show that more than 75,000 deaths from alcohol, drug misuse, and suicide have occurred within the timespan of the pandemic. All of these causes of death can be considered effects from the recommended confinement of the pandemic. 

     Decreases in physical health are a driving factor of the decline of the general population’s mental health. Physical and mental health directly correlate. Therefore, if people are not physically feeling their best, their mental health will be affected. 

     The greatest problems in our country with employment or lack thereof are income struggles, lack of home security, and food insecurity. Many people were unable to work during the pandemic for numerous reasons such as being at high risk for contracting the disease, or businesses laying off their workers. Many citizens were not receiving adequate mental health care, let alone their average visits to the doctor. During this time, everyone was walking through life with a sense of uncertainty. This sense of anticipation harms physical well-being. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,  high blood pressure levels and more health infractions have come from living through a pandemic today. Living with a sense of uncertainty also had a prominent effect on children during quarantine. Kids need an aspect of socialization in their life. School closures have played a large role in this challenge. Elimination of social activities increases the impact. 

     A study conducted by the Frontiers in Psychology journal aimed to evaluate the risk factors and effects associated with parents’ behavior on kids' wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic. They conclude that “parents who reported more difficulties in dealing with quarantine show more stress. This, in turn, increases the children's problems.” Children also feel the stress that their parents and others around them experience in this unknown setting. Parents’ stress levels are rising due to the fear of the disease, lack of jobs, scarce financial income, and minimal social interactions. This unhealthy stress pattern has become a noticeable trend since the inception of the pandemic. 

     Although the conditions which the pandemic has created cannot be changed immediately, action from citizens can be taken to decrease the severity of the harm. Lack of jobs and limiting social interactions cause harm to mental health and contribute to the decrease in available services. Despite these disadvantages, there are solutions that can battle the problems of mental health that many face. This could include an increase in the number of mental health providers. There should be more conversations in general with both kids and adults about mental health. This would encourage kids and adults who are struggling to reach out and speak out. 


Current Mental Health Resources: 

  •   National Suicide Prevention Lifelineexternal icon: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chatexternal icon


Works Cited

Cannon CEB, Ferreira R, Buttell F, First J. COVID-19, Intimate Partner Violence, and Communication Ecologies. American Behavioral Scientist. 2021;65(7):992-1013. doi:10.1177/0002764221992826 


"Coping with Stress.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 July 2021,


"Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation during the COVID-19 Pandemic - United States, June 24–30, 2020.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Aug. 2020,


"Mental Health Tools and Resources - Mental Health - CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Jan. 2018,


Spinelli M, Lionetti F, Pastore M and Fasolo M (2020) Parents' Stress and Children's Psychological Problems in Families Facing the COVID-19 Outbreak in Italy. Front. Psychol.  


"The Long-Term Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health.” Commonwealth Fund,