Our mental health has taken a beating this year. One of many ripple effects from COVID-19 is the toll living through a pandemic has taken on our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. Whether it’s stress from the blurring boundaries between work and home life, a sense of longing from not being able to see loved ones, financial anxiety from losing a job or severe mental health and substance abuse disorders, the Coronavirus has impacted our mental wellbeing in many personal and profound ways.

The immediate mental health effects of the pandemic are staggering. A June 2020 survey of U.S. adults from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40.9% reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse, with rates 3-4 times higher than last year. Even more startling: 10.7% reported seriously considering suicide in the last 30 days – and that number was significantly higher among young adults (25.5%), Hispanics (18.6%) and other racial and ethnic minorities (15.1%) and essential workers (21.7%).

The ripple effect doesn’t stop there: chronic stress and other mental health conditions can trigger or exacerbate physical health issues, such as heart disease, gastrointestinal issues and autoimmune disorders, compounding health and wellbeing challenges. Just at the time when demand for mental health support is increasing, access to traditional resources such as counseling, psychotherapy, harm reduction services and many medicines has been hampered. A recent World Health Organization survey found the pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide.

Fortunately, one “positive” from the past few months is an elevated dialogue about the importance of mental health. More people are talking about mental health concerns and more companies are innovating ways to support people’s total wellbeing than ever before.  

Over the next few weeks, we will feature a series exploring the important role health tech brands are playing in increasing access to mental health support resources. In particular, we’ll delve into challenges and considerations for health tech brands to build credibility and be seen as trustworthy providers of information and support. We’ll also spotlight success stories from health tech companies that are helping drive awareness for mental health issues and improving outcomes for people around the world.

This article was authored by Kristin Villiotte, Vice President, Healthcare, at sister company SHIFT Communications.

If you are working in this area and want to discuss your health tech brand and how we can help you to shape and communicate a compelling and credible story, please get in touch.