ER doctor Anne Messman poses for a photo amid a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Emily Elconin

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The United Nations last week warned of a looming global mental health crisis as communities experience grief, financial distress, and isolation during the pandemic. 

Some mental health experts expect to see a spike in suicide rates across the U.S., although they say the rate is often flat immediately after a disaster, followed by a delayed uptick. Others say it is unclear whether suicides will rise, pointing to a stagnant rate following the 2008 financial crisis and almost no increase so far in calls directly to local suicide hotlines. An article in JAMA Psychiatry calls the combination of the pandemic and economic fallout a “perfect storm” for a deterioration in mental health and subsequent suicides. In Japan, however, the suicide rate fell by 20 percent in April. Mental health experts say that more time with family, fewer people commuting to work, and less bullying and social pressure in schools contributed to the decline. 

The WHO warns that young children and healthcare workers could be particularly vulnerable. Some of the nation’s prominent pediatricians are arguing against prolonged school closures, citing a lack of critical social-emotional connections for young children and their peers. Healthcare workers around the world are reporting dramatic increases in psychological stress and a need for support, while many treating patients who die from COVID-19 could suffer from PTSD for years to come. Law enforcement groups in the U.S. report a similar uptick in trauma and emotional needs.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Japan’s drop in suicides may not hold as fallout from pandemic grows – The Japan Times – 5/17/2020 Despite April’s figure, they say, the fact remains that the fallout from COVID-19 is taking a toll on the livelihoods and mental health of many across the nation, depriving them of jobs and increasing the risk of domestic violence and child abuse.

Karen Pence: ‘It’s OK to not be OK’ during pandemic – Associated Press – 5/14/2020 While Vice President Mike Pence runs the White House coronavirus task force, his wife is leading a parallel effort to help people deal with anxiety and other unsettling emotions brought on by the pandemic.

These therapists are using TikTok to help you get through the pandemic – CNN – 5/15/2020 “I’m not here to diagnose people on TikTok. Overall mental health awareness is my main goal,” said Marquis Norton, a licensed professional counselor with a Ph.D. in counseling, who has about 75,000 followers on the platform.”In this pandemic, a lot of people are afraid and lose hope, so I try to use TikTok to provide lighthearted information that could be perceived as entertainment, educating them and adding value.”

Suicide in Finland up by nearly 15% this spring – Yle Uutiset – 5/15/2020 During March and April the number of suspected suicides was nearly 15 percent higher than the same period last year, according to national police board data. In those two months, a total of 129 suicides were recorded.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

CTV News Northern Ontario on Twitter, 5/17/2020:  A new poll released by the Canadian Mental Health Association is shedding light on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people diagnosed with a mental health condition and addictions. @AlanaCTV reports. https://t.co/T3Gi7HIIgl

DisruptED Magazine on Twitter, 5/17/2020: Reopen the schools or a generation will bear the mental health scars | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian

Sunderland UK 🏖️ #StayHomeSaveLives on Twitter, 5/17/2020: If you have a friend or loved one who is really struggling to cope with lockdown – maybe they have pre-existing mental health conditions, or just seem to be overwhelmed by the isolation – see some practical advice below

Lending My Voice on Twitter, 5/17/2020: Social distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation. Invite your friends and family to join us virtually as we raise awareness about mental health conditions and raise funds for improved treatments and resources for all those affected by mental illness.…

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