The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published information on their website stating, “In a survey from June 2020, 13% of adults reported new or increased substance use due to coronavirus-related stress, and 11% of adults reported thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days. Suicide rates have long been on the rise and may worsen due to the pandemic.” Additional research indicates that, “43% of people in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment for nonmedical use of prescription painkillers have a diagnosis or symptoms of mental health disorders, particularly depression and anxiety.” In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse provides data that shows approximately one in four people with a serious mental illness also has a substance use disorder. Serious Mental Illnesses include schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder.
I can assure you that while the numbers I quoted above are based on polls and statistics, the reality from someone with boots on the ground is that any addiction has a mental health issue intertwined. The mental health issue can be present before, occur during, and will always be around after, addiction takes its hold. The myth that “1 in 5 have anxiety or depression” needs to go away because the fact is that 5 in 5 have mental health. We are all in flux which means we are all at risk.
A Tsunami Of Addiction Is On Its Way
The pandemic created severe disruptions to mental health services and those service issues and the huge gaps in care for those who need it most have not yet been addressed. According to WHO, throughout the pandemic, services for mental, neurological and substance use conditions were the most disrupted among all essential health services.
The fact is that mental health and addiction disorders are very much intertwined throughout society, throughout the world. The prevalence of mental health issues was up substantially in 2019, pre-pandemic, with the opioid epidemic, and the situation has only gotten worse through the COVID years. With the disruption in services due to the pandemic, those with SUD had nowhere to turn. And those experiencing mental health issues, possibly for the first time, have had little to no access to services. The repercussion of this societal unrest is going to be a tsunami of addiction and suicide rates like we have not seen to date.
How Can We Stop This Wave Of Mental Health Disorders
How are we going to address this service gap? The social unrest is growing. How are we going to help ourselves and our loved ones? How can we address all of those who are suffering and who want and need help? We must do something to stop this tide. If you or a loved one suffers with mental health and addiction challenges, visit https://samehereglobal.org/ for helpful resources and uplifting stories of others who have survived and are now thriving and sharing their stories to inspire others who are suffering. I will keep doing everything I can to make you aware of helpful resources and continue to fight for legislations for improved budgets and greater access to services.