Stamford, like many Connecticut communities, faces growing mental health issues that have no doubt been exacerbated by COVID-19. Although COVID-19 did not create these challenges, it undeniably intensified them. Too many families struggling with mental illness already faced barriers to treatment before the pandemic, including stigma, lack of insurance coverage, shortage of providers, or language barriers. These families are now facing a perfect storm: heightened mental health needs just when access to care is more difficult than ever.
More than half of all Americans report that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health, and 40% of Connecticut adults say they have experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression since the pandemic began. Workers and small business owners continue to face economic stress, healthcare workers live with the trauma of treating patients during a pandemic, and we all face continued uncertainty. The problem is particularly troubling for our children: one in six young people in Connecticut suffers from a mental health disorder each year. Unfortunately, despite rising rates of mental illness, our state still struggles with accessibility; more than one million Connecticutans live in a community that does not have enough mental health professionals. It’s clear that this is a crisis that needs to be addressed urgently, and my own personal conversations with dozens of Stamford residents have proven that mental health is a top priority for our community.