(Alexandria, VA, Monday, March 30, 2020) – As the number of cases of COVID-19 increase, so does the associated anxiety. For the general public, the mental health effects of COVID-19 are as important as are the physical health effects.

The mental health impacts of the coronavirus are real, significant, growing, must be addressed, and will persist and do harm if they are ignored.

For those who already have mental health conditions – or the one in two who are at risk of developing them – we need to take measures now to address them.

Isolation can lead to loneliness and depression and sometimes even suicidal thoughts. For individuals who are beginning to experience forced isolation, it can be overwhelming.

It is important to stay connected digitally and check in on loved ones if you are concerned about their mental health.

Mental Health America has resources and tools to help. MHA has online screening tools for several mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression.  This free screening is anonymous and uses the same evidence-based mental health screening tools that are used by most clinicians.

MHA has been monitoring its online anxiety screening since the middle of February. During the past several weeks, the percentage of people screening at a “severe anxiety” level, a level that frequently requires medical attention, was more than 45%.

Severe anxiety is a significant health concern and it cannot be dismissed simply as ‘worry’ that will pass on its own. Severe anxiety is a clinical condition that should trigger prompt and professional treatment and support. MHA has also created resources online regarding COVID-19 and mental health at www.mhanational.org/covid19.

Here are some important tips:

  • Use your smartphone to stay connected to family and friends. Video chat daily if you can.
  • Practice stress relief whenever you feel anxiety building. Get an at-home workout in, try a meditation app, or just take a break from the news.
  • Don’t do anything you’d consider to be unhealthy for you, such as excess drinking.
  • Keep looking forward.

Mental Health America (MHA), founded in 1909, is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Their work is driven by the commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated care, services, and supports for those who need it, with recovery as the goal.

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