The Impact of the Pandemic on Mental Health and Substance Abuse

The Impact of the Pandemic on Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Unusual times come with a natural increase in confusion, fear, and uncertainty about the future. The insecurity about how each of us may proceed to be impacted by the current events, combined with social distancing, has been extremely challenging for our mental health. 

The challenge is especially exacerbated when it comes to people who have already struggled with a mental health disorder. Social isolation, for instance, is more damaging to people with a history of depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders. Concurrently, any person who has been diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive disorder is likely to experience increased symptoms associated with fear of contracting viruses.

The psychological impact of the pandemic can also be seen in newly gathered national numbers. 

Researchers recently released data that provides a deeper look into how the current pandemic drastically altered the lives of US residents in ways that can impact mental health. 


The new study — conducted by Florida State University along with San Diego State University researchers analyzed the discrepancies of mental distress levels among a representative group of 2,032 adults in the last 30 days. The information collected was then compared with the data gathered by the National Health Interview Survey in 2018. 

The study results, although still preliminary, are alarming. US adults were found to be eight times more likely to have a serious mental illness in 2020 than in 2018. They were also three times more likely to fit the criteria for moderate or serious mental illness. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on rates of substance abuse. 

Alcohol sales went up significantly in every part of the country; opioid use disorder and overdose rates increased in several states and experts predict the toll will continue to rise during the following months for different reasons. 


The decrease in available professionals and new financial difficulties are factors that may contribute to magnify the number of overdoses. Another related problem is the disruption of addiction treatment and related care many people who attend cognitive behavioral therapy sessions or take part in peer support group meetings may be unable to do so or have to seek virtual assistance. 

Issues related to mental health and substance use historically surge after disasters. And as the figures lead us to believe, isolation and apprehension may be unavoidable at least in the near future. Yet, Recognizing how the recent events are affecting us physically and emotionally can be the first step towards personal improvement. It is important to remember that there is a need to provide additional mental health support to ourselves and our loved ones at this time.

We are here to help. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 888-928-2272.

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