File photo. Photograph:( DNA )
If the economic and social turnaround is quick the number of additional deaths can be limited to under 28,000.
A new report by the Well-Being Trust indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to as many as 75,000 deaths of despair in the United States. These are not deaths caused by the virus but by other factors stemming from the lockdown like alcohol abuse and suicide.
The pandemic has brought about a sharp economic downturn. Millions are out of jobs and are facing a bleak future. Compounding the stress created by unemployment are factors like loneliness and isolation. Not to mention the fear of getting infected.
If the economic and social turnaround is quick the number of additional deaths can be limited to under 28,000. But if the recession drags on and lockdowns get extended, researchers have estimated a worst-case scenario of 150,000 deaths.
The middle ground is 75,000 deaths according to the study. The researchers have also given a small example of how the lockdown is impacting everyday life. People are doing things that they normally would not do like day drinking. If this becomes a habit, it can lead to alcohol abuse and other health problems in the future.
So what's the solution?
The best remedy according to experts is returning to work but since that is not possible in most countries yet, the focus must be on providing holistic health care. Many addiction patients are relapsing so are people dealing with depression and anxiety. Online and telephonic sessions with mental health experts must be promoted.
More importantly, the researchers have urged people to go easy on themselves. There is no pressure to learn an instrument or pick up a language during the lockdown. Everyone should try and deal with the pandemic at their own pace.