GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services has released a report that predicts Michigan will experience a mental health crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and predicts a 32% increase in statewide suicide rates unless we act now.
According to the report, research into previous epidemics, including the 2003 SARS outbreak in Asia, provides evidence-based warnings about what could happen in Michigan. An analysis of the post-SARS findings – combined with data on the impact that factors such as isolation, unemployment and economic distress, increased substance use, physical health problems and increased access to guns have on suicide rates – point to the predicted 32% increase.
Research suggests that certain groups are at especially high risk, including healthcare providers, surviving caregivers, children and adolescents, older adults, people with pre-existing mental illness, the LGBTQ community and those with autism spectrum disorder.
Fortunately, the SARS research also suggests strategies on how our state can effectively prepare for, and mitigate, the risks. The report calls for a comprehensive approach to increase access to care, including scaling up teletherapy and telepsychiatry, informing Michiganders and referral sources about the availability of these care options and how to find them, and maintaining financial incentives such as waivers for co-pays for these services. The report further points out that current healthcare service tracking infrastructure could be quickly retooled to serve as a statewide behavioral health clearinghouse for people seeking these services.
The full report can be found at pinerest.org/COVID19-report.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, do not wait to seek help. Call Pine Rest at 800-678-5500 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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