CDC: 40 percent of American adults report struggling with mental health issues or substance use

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A new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention shows that 40 percent of American adults struggled with mental health issues or substance use issues in late June.

The Center said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) for June 24-30 that symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder have increased considerably between April and June, primarily due to restrictions brought about by the CONVID-19 pandemic.

To assess mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the pandemic, the Center conducted panel surveys among adults over the age of 18 across the country. Overall, the Center found, 40.9 percent of the respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety or depression (30.9 percent), symptoms of trauma- and stressor-related disorder related to the pandemic (26.3 percent), and have started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19.

Just over 10 percent of the respondents reported having seriously considered suicide within 30 days of taking the survey. However, for adults 18-24, the rate was significantly higher at 25.5 percent. The rate was also higher for Hispanic (18.6 percent) and black (15.1 percent) respondents. Additionally, nearly a third (30.7 percent) of those who reported being unpaid caregivers for adults reported considering suicide, as did almost a quarter (21.7 percent) of those who are considered essential workers.

In comparison to June 2019, the report said, three times (25.5 percent in 2020 compared to 8.1 percent in 2019) the number of respondents reported having symptoms of anxiety, while four times (24.3 percent compared to 6.5 percent) reported symptoms of depression. Twice as many respondents (10.7 percent compared to 4.3 percent) reported seriously considering suicide in the previous 30 days.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said the findings were not surprising.

“The findings of CDC’s MMWR on mental health issues and substance use during the pandemic are troubling but unfortunately not surprising,” SAMHSA said in a statement. “The Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, has warned of the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues since the start of the pandemic. SAMHSA has made increased investments in treatment provision through the CARES Act funding. While this will assist, this alone will not solve the problem. The MMWR clearly evidences the issues caused by social isolation and lockdowns but fails to promote a key strategy to address these issues. The Assistant Secretary again urges local and state officials to consider all aspects of health and not solely virus containment as we move forward. Research is clear on the effect of shutdown and social isolation on an individual’s mental health. The negative health effects are potentially long-lasting and very consequential for individuals and their families. The best fight we have against these issues is the safe reopening and return to some type of normalcy for Americans. With appropriate safety measures in place, the reopening of states and communities will facilitate the improvement in mental health across our nation. We cannot continue to ignore the health consequences for all other conditions in favor of singularly focusing on virus containment.”

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