Who’s Most At Risk in the Covid-19 Mental Health Crisis

New research points to the role of job loss and the media in a worsening mental health landscape

Yasmin Tayag
Medium Coronavirus Blog
4 min readSep 21, 2020

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Credit: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

It doesn’t take a scientific study to know that the coronavirus pandemic is taking a tremendous toll on the mental health of people around the world. Maybe you’re feeling it yourself, your brain and body buckling under unprecedented levels of prolonged stress.

But scientific research is capturing the scale of the mental health crisis in numbers, helping reveal its full scope and the factors underlying it. This information is crucial for public health experts to develop a public mental health response to the pandemic. A paper published in the journal Science on Friday shows the link between psychological symptoms and the Covid-19 pandemic between March and April in the U.S. Empirical studies on the mental health effects of Covid-19, the University of California, Irvine researchers note, are rare — making up just 3% of the published literature on the coronavirus.

Between March 18 and April 18 of this year, which the authors describe as an “escalating period of illness and death in the United States,” acute stress and depressive symptoms significantly increased among Americans. The researchers based their analysis on survey data from a nationally representative group of 6,514 people who were asked not only about their experience of stress and depression during the pandemic but also about coronavirus-related job loss, social media exposure, and personal loss.

In addition to showing evidence for the link between worsening mental health and the worsening pandemic, the study identifies the people who are most likely to experience worsening mental health. The survey data allowed the researchers to identify “predictors” — factors that suggest someone is more likely to suffer mental health issues due to Covid-19.

People who have preexisting mental or physical health conditions, for example, are more likely to have both…

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Yasmin Tayag
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog. Senior editor at Future Human by OneZero. Previously: science at Inverse, genetics at NYU.