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U.S. Mental Health Under Growing Strain in Covid’s Second Summer

NYC Mayor's Lockdown In Virus Hot Spots Hinges On Cuomo Approval
Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

It’s been nearly a year since the U.S. Census Bureau started asking Americans about the mental-health effects of the pandemic -- and the latest survey shows just how much worse things have gotten since then.

Some 22.3 million Americans recently received counseling or therapy from mental-health professionals, according to new data based on research in the two weeks through Aug. 2. That’s an increase of more than 5 million compared with late August last year, when the bureau’s regular Household Pulse survey first posed the question.

There was an even bigger jump in the number of Americans saying they needed that kind of help -- but didn’t get it. That figure is up by about one-third from last summer, to 23.6 million. And some 46.4 million people are now taking prescription drugs to help with emotional or mental health, up by nearly 9 million over the period.

The survey shows how mental-health issues triggered by Covid-19 have become more widespread even as the virus itself grew less deadly –- with consequences for the society and economy that may be around for a while.