COVID-19 and Mental Health


By Maddie Mason, Senior Associate, Policy

The novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, was categorized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, and two days later President Trump declared the outbreak a National Emergency and has since called for limiting gatherings and in-person interactions. The severity of this virus is still not fully known, but statistics have shown that older adults and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions are at a much higher risk of developing severe to life-threatening symptoms associated with COVID-19. Please check out the CDC’s informational guide directed towards those at higher risk explaining symptoms and pre-cautionary measures.

In an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19, and reduce the burden on our health care system, social distancing is being encouraged by local, state, and the federal government. Across the United States, social gatherings have been cancelled or postponed, bars have closed their doors, gyms are closed and no longer holding classes, many restaurants have also closed or are operating under strict guidelines, and people are being encouraged to self-isolate as much as possible. While these measures will aid containment and mitigation efforts, it can cause one to feel very isolated as they self-quarantine away from society. One of the National Health Council’s members, Mental Health America, recently published a blog that offers a variety of resources to those struggling during this difficult and unprecedented time. Along with providing hotline numbers, they recommend people to do the following:

  • Keep the routines that make you feel good and try to modify the ones that you can. For example, if you typically go to the gym or fitness class, you can exercise at home;
  • Create a routine;
  • Reach out to friends and schedule virtual hangouts;
  • Find an accountability and support buddy;
  • If you have a therapist, see if they offer telephone or video-based sessions;
  • Utilize resources like crisis text line or online support groups; and
  • Make sure you have enough medication on hand:
    • Typically, prescriptions can be filled a week or so before they run out. Refill them on the first possible day, because that can buy an extra few days of lowered stress about a prescription running out and not being able to get to the drug store to fill it.
    • Contact your pharmacy to see if they provide delivery services or if they can provide you a longer supply (30 days versus 90 days).

It is very important for Americans to not only take care of themselves physically, but also take care of their mental well-being. Please check out our website, which has resources and informational tools regarding COVID-19, which we will be frequently updating.