by James M. Haitz, LCSW-R
Director, County of Wayne Department of Mental Health & Wayne Behavioral Health Network
People have always struggled with anxiety and depression well before the term COVID-19 had ever entered our vocabulary. Now, toss in the pandemic’s mental health impact into this recipe, and we begin to see that stress and strain to cope during these challenging times are beginning to reach staggering levels, and likely to continue to increase in the coming weeks ahead. All of us will need to steady ourselves to absorb this shockwave ahead of us and be prepared to contend with a dramatic heightened need for support and services.
From a global perspective, the Coronavirus will undoubtedly be one of the most psychologically distressing events in our lifetime. According to Professor George Everly, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “this pandemic is a disaster of uncertainty, and the greater the uncertainty surrounding a disaster, the greater the psychological casualties.”
Let me highlight 10-astonishing statistics:
1. The economy is now a significant source of stress for 70% of Americans. According to the American Psychological Association (AOA), this compares with 46% in their 2019 Stress in America survey. That figure is similar to those we saw during the Great Recession of 2008 and it could reach an even higher level if the economy doesn’t progress and improve as many would like.
2. The Federal Government’s response to the crisis is causing stress to 67% of Americans.
3. More than one-third of Americans have displayed clinical signs of anxiety, depression, or both since the coronavirus pandemic began.
4. Only 50% of the employees in the workforce are comfortable discussing mental health issues. A poll conducted by the APA found that a third of employees worry about retaliation or firing if they seek mental health care. Psychological safety, the freedom to be your true self at work, is more and more being viewed as an important driver of engagement and innovation. Safety must include feeling comfortable discussing mental health issues.
5. Nearly one-in-five Americans say they have had a physical reaction when thinking about the outbreak.
6. In a March 2020 Pew survey, 18% said they had experienced nervousness or anxiety most or all of the time during the past week. That figure had doubled as compared to 9% found during a 2018 survey.
7. Text messages to a federal disaster distress hotline increased more than 1000% during April 2020.
8. Mental Health is poorest among those unemployed for six months of more. Nearly 20% of people unemployed for over a year stated that they currently had or were being treated for depression at the time of the study done by Gallup.
9. The long-term psychological consequences of collective traumas can last a decade or more. One study diagnosed what the author called “Katrina brain,” a syndrome of symptoms resulting from the 2005 New Orleans hurricane. According to a CDC expert who manages hurricane response teams, mental illness and substance abuse are the primary long-term effects of such disasters. A hurricane and a pandemic are two different stressors, but we should not be surprised to see the coronavirus’s psychological toll persist for some time.
10. Pandemic stress is significantly higher in young people. According to Pew, one-third of adults ages 18 to 29 are in the high distress group, compared with just 15% of adults 65 and older.
In Wayne County, during the period of January through October 2020, nearly 3000 individuals were referred to Wayne Behavioral Health Network (WBHN) by their health care professional for treatment services and assistance. The WBHN Open Access Center & COTI Team served 600 individuals in their mobile and crisis programs. WBHN is serving nearly 5000 individuals in 2020 and have provided over 50,000 visits to those individuals. Approximately two-thirds of those services have been delivered by telehealth technology and the remainder have been in-person services.
Both virtual-telehealth and in-person mental health, addiction, and medication assisted treatment services are readily available to the public, along with immediate access to care. Our team of nearly 100 professionals, para-professionals, and support staff are here ready to help anyone in need of mental health and/or addiction care. If you can’t get to us, let us come to you and we’ll send our mobile team out to meet you or pick you up and bring you to our clinic. Contact us at Wayne Behavioral Health Network Clinic: 315-946-5722, Wayne County Open Access Center & COTI: 315-946-5750 or 1-833-WAYNE-CO (1-833-929-6326)
Below is the update of the County’s current COVID-19 statistics as of 11/20/20. Wayne County Public Health can confirm that the total number of positive cases of COVID-19 is now at 829. *Daily positive case rate has been on the rise, and many cases have been directly linked to unmasked persons and/or large, non-socially distant gatherings.
Please protect your families, your neighbors, and your community, socially distance, wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid large gatherings.
The County has had 28,980 tests completed/processed, with 28,151 of them receiving negative results. These are completed tests with lab results, this is not the total number of residents who have been tested; they only post statistics that include results, they do not include tests pending results in those numbers. Out of the 829 positive cases, 666 cases resolved/recovered, 151 cases are recovering, 16 cases require hospitalization, and there have been 12 deaths related to COVID-19.