Lasting effects of shutdown include concerns about mental health

Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 11:18 PM CDT
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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to call for stay-at-home orders, some mental-health officials express concerns about the lasting effects of the shutdown and a bigger suicide risk.

Anxiety and depression continue to be among the biggest concerns for mental-health professionals when it comes to social distancing and isolation. Virtual treatments continue to help in these times, but there is still more work to be done.

"When we look at social isolation, we have to look at this as a challenge to where we are being asked as society to isolate ourselves," says Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas Executive Director Kyle Kssler. "It may not be as comfortable, but it also might be the thing keeping us healthy."

Kessler says there is a growing concern about what will come following the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In the long run, I think what we should be prepared for are the challenges faced with a possible post-traumatic stress disorder in addition to anxiety and the depression and being able to take care of our community," he says.

While Kessler doesn't know when we will see those long-term effects, there are several issues already concerning him and his staff.

"And we've seen an increase in suicides in the age group of 15 to 44," he says. "We've seen an increase in the last five years of over 50 percent."

Kessler says in the last week, hes seen reports from different agencies across Kansas of suicides and suicide attempts. While they can't directly link those reports to COVID-19 at this point, he says factors like social isolation and loneliness can be issues for anyone.