While the physical and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t be more glaring, the pandemic has had a horrifying effect on something that is most often invisible: people’s mental health. That’s according to an alarming new study released by the CDC that examined people’s self-reported state of mental health during the pandemic.
While the study found that, overall, 10.7% of U.S. adults seriously considered suicide during the pandemic, that proportion increased in certain segments of the population due to socioeconomic factors. One of the worst affected segments of the population where suicidal thoughts are surging relates to people’s education levels.
While 10.7% of people with a bachelor’s degree and 10% of people with a professional degree reported seriously considering suicide in the past 30 days, the results were much worse for people with only high school levels of education. The study found that 30% of people without a high school diploma reported seriously considering suicide in the past 30 days. That number was 13.1% for people with a high school diploma.
Two other groups fared worse than people without a high school diploma, however. 44.8% of those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder reported seriously considering suicide in the past 30 days, while 30.7% of unpaid adult caregivers reported the same.
The study’s authors conclude that the findings highlight the need to identify, prevent, and treat these mental health issues during the pandemic. “Identification of populations at increased risk for psychological distress and unhealthy coping can inform policies to address health inequity, including increasing access to resources for clinical diagnoses and treatment options,” the study’s authors state. “Expanded use of telehealth, an effective means of delivering treatment for mental health conditions, including depression, substance use disorder, and suicidal ideation, might reduce COVID-19-related mental health consequences.”
The study was conducted between June 24 and 30, 2020, among 5,470 adult responders. At the time, the U.S. had 2.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. Today the U.S. has 5.26 million confirmed COVID-19 cases.