Letter to the Editor | Mental health crisis awaits post-COVID-19
April 10, 2021
With the advent and ongoing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, public discourse has naturally shifted toward the lifting of restrictions instituted in light of the virus’s spread. However, from the onset of the pandemic, the prospect of a post COVID-19 world has been marked by the notion that, in some undefined capacity, the society to which we are returning will be unlike that which we knew before. That is to say, the incurred losses and consequences of the pandemic are so far-reaching that they will be largely immeasurable for years to come.
One such consequence seldom discussed is the increased need for mental health services. A colossal loss of human life and the universally shared experience of prolonged social isolation will invariably have, to varying degrees, yielded a detrimental effect on the psychological state of many.
Considering that mental health services were inaccessible to a large portion of the American populace on a cost-prohibitive basis alone before COVID-19, it is reasonable to assume that, without institutional change, the disastrous nature of American mental health policy will intensify.
A post COVID-19 world is one rich in opportunity for reformation. The federal government must reassess the functionality and ethics of the American approach toward mental health service systems, as well as the broader domain of health care. If the government’s response to COVID-19 — such a monumental catastrophe — is bereft of substantive change vis-à-vis the American health care system, such change is unlikely to ever occur. The time for widespread, unwavering advocacy and collective action is now.
Kaleb is a graduate student in Social Work.