Countless surveys, studies and trials have been conducted this past year on mental health in citizens on the basis of disorders such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia and dementia. Oxford University, The Canadian Center for Disease Control, and Active Minds released surprising and bleak statistics regarding the cause and effect of COVID-19 on people of different age groups and demographics. 

Research from an Oxford analysis concluded that 1 in 5 patients diagnosed with COVID 19 develop a severe form of mental illness within 2-4 weeks of a diagnosis. The study gathered information from health records of 70,000  Americans from multiple age groups  over a 3 month period last spring. 

Results showed that most patients developed  more severe cases of anxiety disorders that were rigorously  diagnosed through a series of specialized psychiatric testing. Experts stress these tests are not to be equated with the everyday shadows of anxiety the majority of the population are facing during these times, or “self-diagnosed” disorders.

Among the 20%,  the most recurring  psychiatric disorders prevalent in these physically recovered patients was chronic anxiety, depression, insomnia, and early signs of dementia. Additionally, patients were 50% more likely to develop these disorders than a virus such as the flu, although this is comparable to the 30% increase in suicides after the 2003 SARS outbreak. 

Arguably the most surprising part of the study was that the results actually go both ways: People with pre-existing  psychiatric conditions were about 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than people without. Although experts are still unsure as to why, a larger case study is experimenting with this statistic with further trials incorporating the medical records of these patients. 

Similar statistics, different survey

A similar survey to the Oxford trials was done in the summer of 2020 by the CDC, releasing more specific statistics based around the general topic of anxiety and depression. This one revealed that 40% of  surveyed adults admitted to a clinical decrease in their mental health and increase in substance abuse in the wake and effects of covid-19.  The CDC also compared  stats with varying demographics, such as age, race, income, job, ethnicity, and history of pre-existing conditions for reported signs of chronic depression and anxiety.  Among this include: 

  • Almost  75% of individuals aged 18-24 
  • 50% of individuals aged 24-50 
  • 66%  for those in healthcare and long-term care and 54% of those in essential business in general
  • 72.7% of those with a pre-existing anxiety disorder
  • 68% of those with  a pre-existing depression disorder
  • 88% of those with a pre-existing PTSD disorder

Mental health, covid-19, and teens

“It’s hard being an inherently social person and not being able to see people. It’s hard being told things like, ‘the end is just around the corner’ and ‘we’re all in the same boat’ because it just doesn’t help, but at the same time I have yet to find an actual outlet that does. It’s hard to know where to turn and who to go to, because the adults in our lives have never gone through this either and everyone’s just struggling. So that’s hard. Nobody really knows.” Says a recent graduate from Langley Christian Secondary, choosing not giver their name on a basis of negative stigma surrounding mental health.

One in eight children under 18 are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in their teen years and 20% of people ages 15-24 are diagnosed with depression. Only 30 percent of teens with depression receive treatment, and 80 percent of teens with an anxiety disorder do not receive treatment. Additionally, 29% of teens suffer from insomnia, which affects the 15-28  age group the most  (AADA, 2020).  Looking back at the Oxford study and bidirectional pre-existing conditions with covid-19, although teenagers and younger adults are less likely to suffer life-threatening physical detrimets from the virus,  this does not take away from the statistics  supporting the fact that people ages 12-24 suffer from more psychiatric disorders. Those with such pre-existing conditions are more likely to  contract the virus than the average neurotypical person, as the Oxford and CDC  surveys support  (so no, it’s not just because they are out partying every weekend).

Back in April, Active Minds conducted a specific survey on over 2,000 current students in Pennsylvania and compared the most  popular ways covid-19 has impacted them from a schooling perspective. 91% reported an increase in anxiety and stress, 81% with feelings  of disappointment and sadness, 80% with loneliness and isolation and  50% reported  of financial setbacks. 85% of  all students said that focusing on school and work despite worldly distractions has been the most difficult thing about stay-at-home orders. 

As you’ve probably gathered from reading through the mass pile of numbers and percentages stated throughout, there is quite the high chance that whoever reading this right now  is going through their own set of psychiatric issues. I don’t know if you will be pleased to know that you are definitely not the only one.

Although virtually the whole world is focusing their efforts on containing the virus and producing a vaccine, it is important to recognize that mental wellbeing is just as important as physical, and that national leaders are working to address this issue more in the media.

Modern Health, a company that offers a mental health and wellness platform for employer customers, has been working to provide 51 million dollars in mental health wellness and relief for essential and healthcare workers. Additionally, Canadian leaders rep the helpfulness and importance of Wellness Together Canada, a Government-run online portal providing free tools and professional support for psychiatric disorders and substance abuse during COVID-19.

As our prime minister stated during 2020’s Mental Health week,

“To get through this, we all need to be there for each other. If you know someone who is having a hard time, send them a text or give them a call. If you are struggling, reach out and ask for help. There is no challenge that we cannot overcome together.”

Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister

Oxford Trials


Active Minds

Wellness Together Canada statement from the prime minister

Additional information / statistics