Spike in People Seeking Psychiatric Treatment Due to the Pandemic

“Psychiatry is healthcare for mental illness. There are those defined as patients with psychiatric illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

And lately there are also many people who have never been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, who have turned to mental health services due to distress. These are not people who have an illness that is defined as a mental disorder – they’re simply in psychological turmoil regarding the new circumstances they find themselves in.

There are two components to this: one is certainly the objective difficulties. When someone is anxious about whether his or her children will have food to eat tomorrow because his or her business isn’t running and there’s still a mortgage to pay, there is an objective difficulty and objective tension there. The second component is the distress arising from the uncertainty, and the fact that he or she doesn’t know what will happen.

People have depleted their reserves, causing distress levels to rise. Then, if they want to make an appointment with a psychiatrist, they discover that the next opening is in three months. It’s when our lack of availability has heavy ramifications, such as suicide attempts, that I have the hardest time. I say to myself: ‘if I had been available, would the outcome have been different?’ The very question is problematic because it arouses guilt and frustration in me.

But this crisis also presents a kind of opportunity, as any crisis does. It is now possible to implement a process of remote treatment – something hospitals have tried for years to build infrastructure and gain recognition for. Not all psychiatric patients know how to use Zoom, and not everyone has a suitable internet connection at home. So for some patients this is complicated. But others actually find it easier. When these patients are in their natural environment, they feel more comfortable expressing themselves and they can really be seen.”