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COVID-19 and Mental Health

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 most often affects the lungs and respiratory system, but it can also affect other parts of the body. Some people develop post-COVID conditions, also called Long COVID . These symptoms can include neurological symptoms such as difficulty thinking or concentrating, sleep problems, and depression or anxiety.

Why is NIMH studying COVID-19 and mental health?

Both SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly affected the mental health of adults and children. Many people experienced symptoms of anxietydepression, and substance use disorder during the pandemic. Data also suggest that people are more likely to develop mental illnesses or disorders in the months following COVID-19 infection. People with Long COVID may experience many symptoms related to brain function and mental health .

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had widespread mental health impacts, some people are more likely to be affected than others. This includes people from racial and ethnic minority groups, mothers and pregnant people, people with financial and housing insecurity, children, people with disabilities, people with preexisting mental illnesses or substance use problems, and health care workers. 

How is NIMH research addressing this critical topic?

NIMH is supporting research to understand and address the impacts of the pandemic on mental health. This includes research to understand how COVID-19 affects people with existing mental illnesses across their entire lifespan. NIMH also supports research to help meet people’s mental health needs during the pandemic and beyond. This includes research focused on making mental health services more accessible through telehealth, digital tools, and community-based interventions.

NIMH is also working to understand the unique impacts of the pandemic on specific groups of people, including people in underserved communities and children. For example, NIMH supports research investigating how pandemic-related factors, such as school disruptions, may influence children’s brain, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Where can I learn more about COVID-19 and mental health?

Where can I learn more about Long COVID and COVID-19?

How can I find help for mental health concerns?

If you have concerns about your mental health, talk to a primary care provider. They can refer you to a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or clinical social worker, who can help you figure out the next steps. Find tips for talking with a health care provider about your mental health.

You can learn more about getting help on the NIMH website. You can also learn about finding support  and locating mental health services  in your area on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.

Last Reviewed: May 2024

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