In an opinion piece published in the Boston Globe, the Chief of our department, Maurizio Fava, MD, addresses the pandemic within the pandemic and outlines measures we must take to tackle the worsening mental health crisis in the United States. Most importantly, he notes that this is not just a pandemic-driven crisis; long before the pandemic, many Americans have struggled to access mental health services.
The pandemic has clearly led to a significant increase in the number of persons suffering from depression, anxiety and stress. Women of childbearing age face unique challenges in the context of the pandemic, navigating the anxiety and fear associated with the pandemic, while at the same time attempting to reassure and protect their children and being forced to deal with school closures, childcare shortages, and economic instability. In this setting, we have seen increased levels of depression, anxiety, and substance use.
How will we be able to meet the needs of this growing number of patients?
“Access to care must be dramatically expanded. Legislators, insurance companies, and regulators, including boards of registration, need to respond boldly and swiftly to this crisis.” Maurizio Fava, MD, Chief of the Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital.
At Mass General, when the pandemic hit, we were able to offer virtual care, providing over 230,000 outpatient visits last year and also opened a 20-bed emergency psychiatric service within the emergency department. In addition, Mass General Brigham increased the number of inpatient psychiatric beds by about 20%. Yet, the need is great, and despite these significant expansions in care, we are unable to provide timely care to all.
Dr. Fava outlines a straightforward plan (outlined HERE). Dr. Fava states, “We need a bold approach, with joint efforts to help with this from all stakeholders, including legislators, insurance companies, and regulators.”
The country’s mental health crisis: A pandemic within the pandemic (The Boston Globe)