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New research from a locally-based study, led by Interact for Health, shows the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of people living in the Tri-State region.
With nearly 550,000 deaths and more than 30 million cases of COVID-19 so far in the United States, the pandemic has had a significant impact on day-to-day life during the past year.
However, a survey of nearly 900 people throughout the Tri-State region found that 32% say the pandemic has made their mental health worse. Only 7% responded their mental health had improved. The survey also found the impact to mental health more strongly affected young adults and women.
"It just points to that additional toll that it's taking on our community," said Kelley Adcock, director of research and evaluation at Interact for Health.
Adcock said social isolation, economic issues and concerns about getting sick from COVID-19 have all played a role in how people are handling the pandemic. Interact for Health said the mental health toll these issues have caused could stick around long after the more physical impacts of COVID-19 have lessened.
"It's critical that we talk about this issue now, try to help people address the immediate effects of the pandemic on mental health, but also as a community prepare for its ongoing effect for years to come," said Adcock.
Impact for Health recommends anyone struggling with their mental health during the pandemic should take breaks from the news and social media, and take care of their physical health by going on walks or exercising.
"Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand," said Adcock. "So I think things that people do to cope with stress can also improve physical health."
The survey also found 16% of respondents also saw negative impacts on their physical health over the past year, while 8% said their physical health was better.
The group said it's also important to connect with friends or people for support and consider reaching out to a doctor for professional support.
"We know that coping with stress during a pandemic in positive ways can be really difficult," said Adcock. "We're all facing enormous issues and that varies from person to person."
Interact for Health plans to break down additional data gathered in the survey regarding the financial impact of the pandemic, and how it's affecting both tobacco and opioid use in the Tri-State region.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health crisis, find help using the local and national resources below:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or you can text “CONNECT" to 741741