Alexandria, VA – Mental Health America (MHA) today announced that 1,015 additional mental health screeners nationwide have screened with a severe anxiety result in the month since the coronavirus worry began to emerge. MHA offers free, anonymous mental health screenings at www.mhascreening.org.
“We have been monitoring an overall increase in anxiety screening since the middle of February, when concerns about COVID-19 began to grow,” reported Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of MHA.
"Severe anxiety is a significant health concern and it cannot be dismissed simply as ‘worry’ that will pass on its own. Severe anxiety is a clinical condition that should trigger prompt and professional treatment and support.”
MHA compared screening data from the first six weeks of 2020 – before worry about the virus took hold – to data collected from mid-February through March 15. On average, 126 people per day screened for severe anxiety during the first six weeks of the year. This number grew to 152 per day during the last two weeks in February and to 169 per day during the first two weeks of March.
“This means that we had 360 additional severe anxiety results during the last two weeks in February associated with coronavirus worry,” Gionfriddo noted. “And we had 655 more during the first two weeks in March.”
As a result, the number of excess severe anxiety results associated with the coronavirus passed 1,000 for the first time on March 15.
Gionfriddo noted that as more screening data come in, MHA will be able to do more local analyses. He cautioned that MHA cannot draw conclusions beyond what it is reporting.
"MHA does not offer the only anxiety screenings in the country, so our numbers are probably significantly underestimating the actual impact of the virus on severe anxiety. Mental health impacts of the coronavirus are real, significant, growing, must be addressed, and will persist and do harm if they are ignored.”
MHA offers free anxiety and mental health resources at https://screening.mhanational.org/anxiety and will continue to update its website in the coming days with additional resources related to COVID-19.