In the shadow of Covid‑19, mental health help can’t come soon enough

David Wennberg & Ezekiel Emanuel

Blog | Healthcare | Aug 12, 2020

When the flu pandemic hit the United States in 1918, medical care was a privilege reserved for the elite. But the widespread outbreak of a deadly virus did not adhere to social hierarchies. It highlighted an inadequate system that too few could access.

As a result, forward-thinking people built a public health infrastructure from scratch — one which we still see the critical value of today.

More than a hundred years later, in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, we face the consequences of another inadequate and inaccessible system: mental health care. The psychological pressures that Covid-19 has brought — isolation and physical distancing, fast-rising unemployment and economic loss — have triggered what amounts to a secondary pandemic for millions of Americans. We need a mental health care overhaul.

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