I have been asked a lot about social isolation associated with shelter at home orders and social distancing causing anxiety and depression since Governor Kelly’s emergency declaration due to coronavirus on March 12. Clearly, this is a consideration for all of us, and behavioral health providers like community mental health centers are very aware that as time goes on, staff and services will be even more necessary to help people with increased anxiety, depression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder. With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, this seems like an even more timely occasion to comment.
We know that we have a suicide problem in Kansas. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Summary of Vital Statistics, our state has experienced a more than 50 percent increase in death by suicide in the last five years in the age group 15-44.
A substantial body of research has found that social isolation compounds risk factors that can lead to suicidal thoughts. This includes reports by the Centers for Disease Control, American Psychological Association, and many others.