Being a columnist, I am used to blathering on about a single thought for 675 words or so. My wife is more succinct.
“If tomorrow is exactly like today, is it really tomorrow?” she said recently when asked about her day. “Is it really tomorrow or is it just today again, over and over? And what does that make yesterday?”
Um, I don’t know; I’ll have to consult Jean-Paul Sartre. But the questions pretty much sum up the “Groundhog Day” existence many are leading during the coronavirus pandemic. With stay-at-home orders creating a dull monotony, with kids trying to engage in distance learning and businesses closed and people doing their best to avoid contact with strangers, many Americans are living a post-apocalyptic existence. Add in the economic stress of displaced workers, and we have a bubbling cauldron of anxiety.
All of which leads to concern about the collateral casualty of COVID-19: America’s mental health. Time magazine reports that last month, about 70 percent of Americans experienced moderate-to-severe mental distress — triple the rate seen in 2018. That’s according to a preliminary study from San Diego State University and Florida State University, a study that has not yet been subject to peer review.
“In some ways, this is a perfect storm for mental health issues,” said co-author Jean Twenge. “We’re dealing with social isolation, anxiety around health, and economic problems. All of these are situations linked to mental health challenges, and these are hitting many of us all at once.”