ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) announced today the release of a major report -- "Beyond a Perfect Storm: How Racism, COVID-19, and the Economic Meltdown Imperil Our Mental Health," that calls fora response to the fact that over 40 percent of Americans now have an anxiety disorder and depression. By comparison, in 2019, only 8 percent of adults had symptoms of anxiety disorder and 6 percent had symptoms of a depressive disorder.
Americans are suffering from mental health disorders on a scale rarely seen before, due to a perfect storm of systemic racism, the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic turmoil. By the end of 2020, more than 103 million adults in the United States will suffer mental health disorders, according to the new report.
"The confluence of events this year has created a 'perfect storm' that has swamped the mental health and well-being of all people, and especially those who identify as Black Americans," said Angele Moss-Baker, President of the American Mental Health Counselors Association and one of the report's co-authors. "The resulting tsunami of mental health concerns requires a comprehensive and integrated policy response with intentional, culturally responsive policy and practices to reduce the negative impacts of racial trauma, discrimination, and oppression while promoting short- and long-term mental health and well-being."
In addition to threatening Americans' physical health and economic stability, the coronavirus pandemic has caused high levels of emotional distress throughout the country. The levels are so high in fact that the report's co-authors believe the country faces an imminent national mental health crisis—unless Congress, states, and local communities act. Undeniably, U.S. society is in a collective state of traumatic distress.
The AMHCA report lays out a series of vitally needed policy changes that can mitigate the mental health crisis. Crucial changes include federal legislative initiatives that would recognize clinical mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists in the Medicare program. This one change alone would enable Americans with mental health conditions to access both in-person and virtual services in a timely fashion and at reasonable rates.