Could COVID-19 accelerate improvements in mental and behavioral health?
December 9, 2020

By Ralph Judah, managing director, health care global markets, and David Rabinowitz, senior manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP

The COVID-19 pandemic has both highlighted and worsened the world’s underlying mental and behavioral-health challenges. Social isolation, loss of income and health coverage, anxiety about acquiring COVID-19, and concern about loved ones falling ill have placed a tremendous strain on all of us.1 Government agencies around the world have warned that a wave of depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, and other behavioral-health issues could be on the horizon as a result of the pandemic.2, 3 Prior to COVID-19, an estimated 1 in 4 people experienced significant mental illness at some point in life,4 and about 1 in 5 working-age adults were affected by mild-to-moderate disorders at any given moment.5 These challenges are now being exacerbated. Mental distress during the pandemic is three times higher than it was in 2018.6