COVID-19 and ending the Mental Health Stigma

Even with COVID-19 vaccination rates increasing, lockdowns being lifted and a trend towards “normalcy” returning, many say there is now a “second pandemic.” Health experts fear the grave mental health repercussions and residual effects of this already prevalent pandemic. While this public health crisis has existed long before pre-pandemic social distancing and isolation, ravaging those who fear to ask for help, many have barriers in the way of seeking help and treatment even in the wake of COVID-19. The SAMHSA reports that nearly 43.7% of adult Michiganders with a mental health diagnosis receive some form of treatment while 56.3% do not. For too long there has been a stigma attached to those who seek out professional health providers to address mental illnesses and conditions. Having a mental health illness or condition has incorrectly been labeled as a weakness in society.

This is not a modern day issue, as there are examples in ancient texts and literature, however there may not be a scientific diagnosis attached to the symptoms or behaviors demonstrated by some individuals suffering in silence. Many scholars believe that the ancient Greek hero Odysseus suffered from PTSD after his long journey back home from the Trojan War. This too is true not only for current veterans of war or active military personnel, but for our current healthcare and frontline workers shouldering the load against COVID-19, and so many others for a variety of reasons. Exposure to higher levels of trauma and despair has led healthcare professionals to increased rates of burnout. A MHA survey completed by 1,119 healthcare workers from June to September 2020, reported that 76% of participants experienced exhaustion and burnout (The Mental Health of Healthcare Workers in COVID-19). No matter your profession or place within society, we each carry markers of our past that are invisible to the eye. Not all disabilities and symptoms are visible, and this is especially true for mental health conditions.

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s imperative to talk about mental health and prioritize mental health treatment and resources available to the community. The mental health toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on all walks of life and age groups. Currently major depressive disorder impacts 14.8 million adults and is the number one reported disability for individuals 15-44 years old (Mental Health Facts, University of Michigan Counseling and Psychological Services). Unfortunately, these numbers are only projected to increase while we continue to venture into the “new normal” and begin to unpack the psychological baggage of life in lockdown. But, together, we hope to end the stigma surrounding mental health care and treatment, and help promote mental health awareness and resources available.

At Disability Law Group, we encourage all individuals to take proactive measures in mental health prevention, education, and treatment. We know how important it is to be aware of the signs of mental health illness and to ask for help. Below we have included a brief list of resources available to the community and those in need throughout the state of Michigan. While this list is not exhaustive or a complete list, it can be a great way to seek help and additional mental health resources in Michigan.

  • Michigan.gov: list of readily available 24/7 virtual counseling services and mental health resources:  https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_99557—,00.html.
  • Michigan.gov Coronavirus: an extensive Behavioral Health Guide for adults, older adults, health care workers, first responders, parents, youth, teachers, caregivers, expectant and new mother, those already in recovery, corrections staff and for veterans: https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_99557_104975-549331–,00.html
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ Call: 1-800-273-8255 – Available 24/7  – Text TALK to 741741
  • Oakland County Community Health Network: 5505 Corporate Drive Troy, Michigan 48098

24-hour crisis number: 248-456-1991 or 800-231-1127

  • The Rebound Detroit, Managing Mental Health Help Hotline: 1-888-535-6136 Press 8
  • Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority dba Detroit-Wayne Integrated Health Network: 707 West Milwaukee Detroit, Michigan 48202 24-hour crisis numbers: 313-224-7000 or 800-241-4949
  • Michigan Crisis Text Line: Text the keyword RESTORE to 741741. Open 24/7
  • Michigan PEER Warmline: For those living with serious mental illness or substance use challenges, call: 1-888-PEER-753 (888-733-7753). Available daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Headspace: Michiganders can get free access to headspace, a mental health and meditation app, by visiting www.headspace.com/mi.

Sources

  • Mental Health Facts, University of Michigan Counseling and Psychological Services
    • https://caps.umich.edu/content/mental-health-facts
  • The Mental Health of Healthcare Workers in COVID-19
    • https://mhanational.org/mental-health-healthcare-workers-covid-19
  • Behavioral Health Barometer, SAMHSA
    • https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/2015_Michigan_BHBarometer.pdf