As a society, we are much more adept at understanding and treating physical illness than mental illness. Even with all of the challenges associated with COVID-19, we've developed vaccines and are beginning to see effective treatments for the physical impact of the virus. While we aren't out of the woods yet, there is certainly hope that we won't see another major surge in cases.
But now we're grappling with the impact on mental health caused by issues such as isolation, anxiety over contracting the virus, and/or having someone close to us become ill or die from Covid.
In our work with behavioral health facilities, we are aware of a significant increase in mental health issues caused by the virus, particularly in younger populations. There are logistical implications for facilities, like the need for tight intake protocols to allow for temperature checks, screening, etc. for both patients and staff. But more importantly, we are seeing a growing need for both inpatient beds and outpatient services as secondary and tertiary mental health issues such as substance abuse and eating disorder treatments are on the rise. Anticipating the possibility that we will continue to deal with COVID to some degree for the foreseeable future, there have been discussions regarding larger treatment rooms and/or the need for private rooms or specialty sub-rooms specifically for COVID patients.
It is early yet to say what the true ripple effect of COVID-19 will be on mental health issues but we know that it is only magnifying the shortage of quality mental healthcare and we applaud our partners in behavioral health who are working to keep up with the surging demand.