The Hidden ‘Fourth Wave’ of the Pandemic | NAMI

The Hidden ‘Fourth Wave’ of the Pandemic

Posted on December 9, 2020

Farhad Manjoo, opinion columnist, discusses the impending mental health crisis. According to a new Gallup survey, Americans’ assessment of our mental health is “worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades.” But now comes winter and the holidays, a time of special dread. Even in ordinary years, this season turns up the needle on stress. The pandemic winter promises a new layer to our mental anguish. “This year is very unlikely to be a good year for you if have had a history” of mental health issues, Ken Duckworth, CMO of NAMI, told me. “You’re going to have fewer connections, more isolation and more uncertainty.” Yet we might be as ill prepared for the mental toll of the pandemic as we were for its physical toll. The picture is bleak. Even before the pandemic, the U.S. had too few mental health professionals to meet the nation’s needs. The shortage is most dire in rural areas and in urban communities that are home to marginalized groups. Demand for treatment has skyrocketed, but supply has not. “It takes eight months to explode demand,” Duckworth told me, but several years to make a social worker.


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