White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has a 3-word message for everyone who’s feeling overwhelmed by each day’s coronavirus update.
“Don’t give up” is what Dr. Fauci said he wants people to take away from a recent interview he did with The Washington Post about the latest developments related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus has produced a number of mental health-related effects, as the pandemic has lingered for more than six months in the US now.
For months, it’s been so easy to stay addicted to the steady drip of coronavirus updates and other daily news headlines related to the pandemic — including everything from the terrible death toll (more than 170,000 and counting in the US alone) to the inexorable rise in the number of new cases around the country. One reason it’s so hard to pull away from the daily coronavirus news cycle is because of the very real impact it has on daily life right where you live. Turn off the news for a day, for example, and you might miss anything from word of a restaurant that you loved being forced to shut its doors to some new way that your community is responding to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, there are some hidden effects to having our lives so controlled by this virus for the last six months — effects that public health officials arguably aren’t talking about enough. White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci touched on this in a new interview (offering a simple yet powerful 3-word encouragement: “Don’t give up”), as did the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a study released at the end of last week. Developed from a survey of more than 5,400 Americans, the study found that “40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition.”
The findings go on to note that 31% of respondents acknowledged suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression, while 26% reported symptoms of trauma and stress related to the pandemic. Even more worrying, a little more than 13% of respondents had started using substances like alcohol to deal with stress and emotions related to the pandemic, while almost 11% had seriously contemplated suicide over the prior 30 days.
“During June 24–30, 2020,” the study notes, “US adults reported considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.”
These may be the kinds of tragic side effects that Dr. Fauci had in mind when he sat in recent days for an interview with The Washington Post reporter Geoff Edgers. As always, these kinds of interviews with Dr. Fauci make all kinds of news, with one of the headlines out of this one having to do with Dr. Fauci’s comment to Edgers that Fox News personality Tucker Carlson is adept at triggering “some of the crazies in society to start threatening me.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Fauci also turned his attention in this interview to the stress and despair that people are feeling right now, as we all deal with effects of the pandemic that stem from other peoples’ actions that we had nothing to do with and can’t control — like the failure of national leaders to adequately contain and robustly fight the virus.
Even so, “this will end,” Fauci assured Edgers. “I mean, when you’re in something that’s so stressful, you have to worry about despair setting in, like, ‘My God, I’m in a hopeless situation.’ It’s not, it will end. We will get out of this and we will return to normal. So it’s really one of those situations — Don’t give up. Don’t despair, don’t throw caution to the wind. We can end this … with public health measures and the scientific advances of vaccines and therapies and preventions, I will guarantee you that.”
Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.