“Anxiety, loneliness, personal loss, job loss, financial ruin, and an uncertain future are often precursors to both mental illness and substance abuse,” says Blackard, who is based in Ozark, Missouri. “The virus is creating the perfect storm for an already-vulnerable demographic.”
Not only that, Blackard says the current economic shutdown posits the potential for unprecedented “death by despair” — deaths linked to drugs, alcohol, or suicide.
“The worst thing a person who is struggling with mental health can do right now is to isolate,” Blackard says. “That can lead to doing more drugs, overdosing, and maybe even taking one’s own life.”