75,000 Pandemic-Related Deaths of Despair, Yet the Government Won't Provide Mental Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit us all in different ways, but one thing's for sure: we're all suffering. All sorts of new stressors are quite literally plaguing us — ranging from fears of illness or death, to anxiety about unemployment or finances, to the loss of regular social contact we're used to. And these secondary effects of the deadly pandemic are all collapsing together to cause yet another epidemic in our society: mental health crises.

Depression, anxiety, trauma, and loneliness are all on the rise. According to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental health challenges related to the pandemic are impacting nearly 41 percent of those surveyed. Along with these challenges have come a rash of risky behaviors, including substance abuse and unsafe large gatherings with other unquarantined, exhausted individuals. Researchers have found that the pandemic may have resulted in an additional 75,000 "deaths of despair" — that is, deaths from substance use and suicide.

The pandemic already made it clear months ago that we need a universal healthcare system in the U.S. This latest evidence just proves the case even more! Sign the petition to demand that the U.S. Congress finally pass legislation guaranteeing healthcare and mental health access for all!

One of the key factors impacting mental health is sleeplessness. This may seem like a low-level concern when compared with other disturbing COVID-related stats, but it's actually a huge deal. Insufficient sleep causes reduced immune systems, increased risk of disease and illness, more reactivity when interacting with other people, and increased mental health challenges such as depression. Taken together, it constitutes a huge risk to individuals' mental health — and to general public health.

Unfortunately, these problems aren't likely to go away any time soon. The pandemic is not only not under control — it is in full-swing and continues to spread (and kill) rapidly. Meanwhile, these mental health struggles are expected to continue to build. Even once the pandemic is finally under control, these long-unattended crises of depression, trauma, grief, anxiety, and suicidality aren't going to magically disappear. After having intensified for months and months in the pressure cooker that is 2020, these crises will still create huge ripples throughout our society.

Unfortunately, accessing mental healthcare in the United States is not easy. Most insurance companies press therapists to provide short-term, superficial care in order to maximize corporate profits and minimize expensive therapeutic treatments. On top of that, many therapists are considered "out-of-network" and therefore cheap, greedy insurance companies simply won't pay for any visits at all.

There's an obvious solution that's been staring us in the face for years, but we've been afraid to use it. It's time for the federal government to finally put the health of its people first — and to hell with the corporate whining and lobbying of the profit-guzzling insurance companies.

Sign the petition to demand universal healthcare in the United States and to demand federal funding for mental health access for everyone!
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