According to Mental Health America, overall, mental health conditions occur in Black and AfricanAmerican (B/AA) people in America at about the same or less frequency than in white Americans. However, the historical Black and AfricanAmerican experience in America has and continues to be characterized by trauma and violence more often than for their white counterparts and impacts the emotional and mental health of both youth and adults. 

A new study, the State of the Nation’s Mental Health, from the Anthem Foundations, says the pandemic has led to a decrease inmental healthcare over the 2020 calendar year for  children and older adults.  

While people in America have shared that the pandemic and other stressors like social injustice, elections and the economy negatively impacted their mental health in 2020, there wasn’t a corresponding increase in people seeking mental health treatment, according to the inaugural Anthem, Inc. State of the Nation’s Mental Health report. 

However, diagnoses and treatment for anxiety and PTSD for adults were among the few mental health diagnoses that grew in 2020. In addition, children and older adults appeared to have the largest overall downturn, reporting significantly fewer mental healthdiagnoses in 2020 compared to 2019. Younger adults, meanwhile, had a smaller than expected increase in mental health diagnoses for the full year of 2020.  

These findings, part of the report based on Anthem affiliated health plan claims from 27 million Americans, show the  pandemic disconnect between feeling stressed and depressed and being diagnosed and seeking treatment. Further, 42 percent of people under 30 years old were experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms, according to a CDC survey from August 2020 through February 2021.   

“What this says to us is that there are many people who may benefit from mental  health services, especially children and older adults, who either aren’t being identified or aren’t reaching out to get the help they might need,” said Anthem  Chief Health Officer Dr. Shantanu Agrawal.

“This is a callout for all of us. We don’t hesitate to help others get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves from the virus and we shouldn’t hesitate to help people find the mental health services they need as they cope with the pandemic, which is equally important to  their overall health. That’s why we are dedicated to increasing our focus on whole  health,” Dr. Agrawal said.

The report showed the following drops in 2020 rates for those treated for mental health diagnoses compared to those treated in 2019:  

∙ 10 percent overall drop for young children 

∙ 5 percent overall drop for adolescents 

5 percent overall drop for adults older than 75 

∙ 13 percent drop for young children diagnosed with ADHD 

∙ 8 percent drop for adolescents diagnosed with ADHD 

∙ 8 percent drop in adults older than 75 diagnosed with dementia, and a 3 percent drop for both Baby Boomers and adults older than75 diagnosed for depression.  

On a positive note, nine out of 10 healthcare professionals surveyed said that COVID-19 has made them more aware of the mental health conditions their patients are experiencing. Seventy percent of healthcare professionals said their patients have been more willing to proactively bring up mental health concerns during appointments. 

Information about how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions are available at the State of the Nation’s Mental Health report website and the Mental Health America website.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *