2 Groups Hit Especially Hard by Pandemic's Mental Toll

2 stories explore the issue for young adults and the unemployed
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2021 9:25 AM CST
'We Are in the Midst of a Mental Health Pandemic'

Two new stories Monday highlight the same, bleak theme: The pandemic is taking an increasingly heavy toll on mental health. The New York Times digs into how it's affecting young people in particular, not just in the US but around the world. And USA Today looks specifically at the mounting stress on unemployed Americans. Some details:

  • The Times story notes that young people are last in line for vaccines, while dealing with shuttered colleges, a lack of jobs, missed milestones, and stunted social lives. "Young people have borne much of the burden of the sacrifices being made largely to protect older people, who are more at risk from severe infections," write Isabella Kwai and Elian Peltier. "But the resilience of youth may be overestimated, mental health professionals say."
  • In the US, for example, 25% of 18- to 24-year-olds say they have seriously considered suicide, according to one report cited in the story. It cites similar stats from around the world, noting that a nationwide survey in France ranked young people lowest in terms of psychological well-being.

  • At this point, the scope of the problem is largely anecdotal, but mental health professionals interviewed say it is very real. "We are in the midst of a mental health pandemic, and I don’t think it’s treated with near enough respect,” says a psychotherapist in London whose number of younger clients has doubled of late.
  • The USA Today story, meanwhile, notes that half of the jobless in the US self-report dealing with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The vast majority report increased emotional stress in some fashion, including more fights with loved ones.
  • The story is a mix of big-picture stats and interviews with those affected, including a 58-year-old woman who lost her $42,000-a-year job before landing a $12-an-hour job eight months later. In the interim, she feared becoming homeless. "Every day I have to go to work and put on a smile for strangers when I’m literally breaking inside because my finances are just totally out of whack,'' she says. "Mentally it’s going to take me a while to get back to a place where I feel safe financially, where I know I’m going to be OK."
(More pandemic stories.)

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