For 10 months, we have borne witness to the unsparing ravages of a pandemic that has plundered over 250,000 lives, millions of jobs, countless life milestones and, normalcy. Throughout it all, the overwhelming feeling has been that of being unmoored. Which is why, as we enter what appears a resurgent phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s another crisis on my mind: mental health.
Yes, we are also in the throes of a mental health pandemic. Orders of magnitude more people, in the United States and around the world, are suffering depression, anxiety, PTSD than this same time last year. And this is due both to the direct mental health consequences of COVID-19 — which has effectively perpetrated a mass trauma on our psyche — and to the indirect consequences, ranging from joblessness to racial disparities to political rancor.
As divided as this country may be over even the basic existence of COVID-19, what remains uncontested is that we’re not doing enough to shore up one another’s mental health.
Enter Dr. Jessi Gold, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of Wellness, Engagement, & Outreach at the Washington University, St. Louis School of Medicine. Dr. Gold is a practicing psychiatrist and a prolific writer and observer of mental health as depicted in the media and popular culture. For years, she has shared candidly of her own experiences while speaking vigilantly against disinformation online. Today, Dr. Gold and I talk about her experiences discovering and practicing psychiatry, pre- and post-pandemic. We explore what it means when so much of the country is suffering from pandemic-induced anxiety and depression. And we reflect on the particular trauma befalling health workers, and how only recently that stigma has begun to lift. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
For more on Dr. Gold, including links to her writing, check out her website.
For more on Civic Rx, visit civic-rx.org.
And as a reminder, if you or anyone you know is suffering, please don't wait to get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. Stay safe.