COVID-19 continues to fuel mental health crisis, straining regional providers
There is a well-established lag between high-stress current events – including wars or recessions – and an increase in demand for mental health services, according to University Hospitals Dr. Patrick Runnels.
The coronavirus pandemic is no different. At first, clinicians heard reports that people were more anxious and depressed. This did not translate into an immediate spike in nominations, however.
“Until about seven months ago, you could walk into our counseling or psychiatric ward pretty easily,” said Runnels, a psychiatrist and director of population health education at UH Cleveland Medical Center. “The problems started last summer when we saw the demand increase, and it kept going up and still hasn’t leveled off.”
To be fair, COVID is not solely responsible. Racial unrest, economic instability, political divisions, and even global conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine, have contributed to an escalation in psychiatric distress as well as an increase in drug and alcohol use.
“A recent study found that nearly 60% of hospitalized patients had at least one neuropsychiatric psychiatric symptom, including anxiety, delirium, depression, dizziness, headache, and insomnia,” Dr. John Boltri, director of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Northeastern Ohio Medical University based in Rootstown. “Things may be back to normal, but mental health issues don’t magically go away.”
“What we’re also seeing is that as mental health care is de-stigmatized – which I think is fantastic – it opens up more people to wanting mental health services and expecting them in some way. kind as part of their healthcare options,” said Dr. David Miller, medical director of pediatric integrative medicine at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.