Even as the coronavirus death toll in the United States crosses 79,000, the experts have warned of the increasing epidemic of “deaths of despair” among the Americans. A new study by the Well Being Trust and Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care has predicted that about 75,000 Americans will die from suicide, drug or alcohol misuse because of the adverse impact of the deadly virus.
The researchers say that the data on “deaths of despair” were only predictions and prevented through comprehensive action plan. WBT chief strategy officer Benjamin F. Miller said that policymakers should focus on on mitigating the effects of Coronavirus. “If we work to put in place healthy community conditions, good healthcare coverage, and inclusive policies, we can improve mental health and wellbeing. With all the other COVID-related investments, it’s time for the federal government to fully support a framework for excellence in mental health and well-being and invest in mental health now,” he said.
However, he warned that the country will not come out of the situation if the collateral damage, especially mental health, was not addressed. The study was based on combined information on deaths of despair from 2018 as a baseline with projected levels of unemployment from 2020 to 2029. The WBT said that coronavirus has already devastated the world. The US has already seen a massive jump in unemployment. Salaried persons as well as contract workers have been laid off. Te deadly virus has also led to loss of social connection and increased stress of uncertainty. They pointed out that unemployment during the Great Recession (December 2007-June 2009) had led to increased suicide deaths and drug overdose deaths.
As part of the improving mental health and well being, the WBT has made the following suggestions;
GET PEOPLE WORKING: One of the main issues is related to finding work. Unemployment is an undeniable risk factor for suicide and drug misuse. Policy solutions must focus on providing meaningful work to the unemployed.
GET PEOPLE CONNECTED: A wide gap of connectivity has been formed because of forced isolation. Several communities are now finding solutions like singing from their balconies and porches. Some other communities are reinventing how the members could get together.
GET MENTAL HEALTH INTEGRATED: The focus should be on mental health screening and treatment. GET PEOPLE FACTS: Uncertainty leads to fear and this may give way to dread. Dread negatively impacts the health and well-being. People should be provided with science and calm facts. OFFER A VISION FOR THE FUTURE: New policies should be envisaged for future health care system. Mental health should be given priority.
GET PEOPLE CARE: Policies should be framed for giving maximum care to people.