COVID-19 School of Medicine

Could COVID-19 Finally Destigmatize Mental Illness?

There is a research model going around that suggests as many as 150,000 additional people could die from mental health-related outcomes of COVID-19. I could argue the merits of the mathematical model as many of my colleagues have. I could also make the case that discussing the depths of despair and predicting increasing suicide rates over and over could, in fact, lead to copycat suicides. But what if I took an alternative stance, and told you that—though absolutely no one would wish a pandemic on anyone— this is actually what mental health needed to stop being stigmatized and start being valued?

I’m not naïve. As a psychiatrist, I understand the realities of the mental health stressors that exist from this global pandemic and the potential for an increase in psychological care needs now and in the aftermath. However, it’s possible that we emerge from this with innumerable positive mental-health outcomes.

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