America’s Mental Health Suffering

America's Mental Health Suffering

( – In 2020, Americans suffered a crushing blow from COVID-19. Shutdowns, high job losses and unemployment, threats of losing homes, protests and riots and an election nightmare led to one of the most stressful years in decades. For many people, it was a direct impact on their lives that affected them the most.

  • Small business owners losing a lifetime investment as their business closes permanently.
  • Those who lost a loved one during the pandemic’s initial months couldn’t grieve the loss traditionally.
  • Weddings planned months or years in advance were threatened or postponed.
  • Expensive vacations were canceled.
  • Natural disasters significantly harmed communities in the path of multiple hurricanes along the gulf coast.

Is It Any Wonder Americans Are Exhausted?

Unfortunately, it’s more than exhaustion. According to a study titled Stress in America™ 2020, Americans are at our collective wit’s end. From the beginning of the pandemic in March, mental health experts warned of serious health and social consequences. Unfortunately, many governors ignored the realities of isolation, including depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide and more.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 40% of adults in June struggled with some form of mental health issue or substance abuse. Mental health symptoms included:

  • Anxiety and depression – 31%
  • Trauma and stress-related disorders – 26%
  • New or increased substance abuse – 13%
  • Suicide seriously contemplated – 11%

This Crisis Is Different

People face crisis and mental health challenges all the time. It’s part of living. However, rarely do so many factors align simultaneously to make coping with challenges emotionally overwhelming for so many.

Another factor is mental health professionals say people are struggling now who have never struggled with mental health before. Normally, they are happy or at least appear happy. Many show up at ER’s thinking they are experiencing a heart attack when it’s a mental health issue causing an anxiety attack.

So, how do you know when you’ve moved beyond stressed to really needing help?

What to Look For

Some signs to look for include:

  • You get too much or too little sleep
  • Your eating habits drastically change
  • You experience extreme tiredness or restlessness
  • You have negative thoughts more frequently
  • You feel like you’re in “survival mode”
  • People suggest you don’t seem like yourself

If you notice any of these signs, it may be time to call your primary care doctor or mental health professional. It might even be a good idea to bring up how you’re feeling with a spouse, family member, or friend who can affirm whether they see these patterns.

However, if you’re feeling hopeless or questioning the meaning of your life, or if it’s worth living, it’s an emergency. Seek help immediately by going to the nearest emergency room, text HOME to 741741 to talk with a Crisis Counselor on the Crisis Textline, or call 800-273-8255 to talk with someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

We live in extraordinary times. Many people are feeling some sense of enhanced stress and are struggling. It might even be you or a loved one. The most important thing to do is to seek help and take care of yourself.

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