COVID-19’s Residual Effects of the Trauma Associated with COVID


The United States is now in the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects of the pandemic go beyond the devastating health crisis with certain populations within our nation suffering more than others. As the saying goes, we may all be in turbulent waters, but we are not all in the same boat. Some of our boats are sinking, and we need to find a way to get them safely to shore. Two groups are bearing the brunt of this storm: low-income families and essential healthcare workers.

Low-income families are enduring devastating effects of the pandemic. These include inadequate healthcare, school closures, unemployment, lack of affordable housing, food insecurity, lack of transportation, and an increase in crime in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. These effects cause a higher risk of contracting and dying of COVID-19. In addition, it increases stressors of an already fragile mental health population. Public health advocates hope that these risk factors will lead to an increase in public funding to tackle poverty and improve health. According to Harvard professor David Williams in his USA Today article, addressing health issues of low-income citizens, “are proven to reduce poverty and health care disparities.”

The CARES Act increased the safety net for low-income families. According to Zachary Parolin, a member of Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy, the poverty rate would have increased from 12.5 percent to 16.3 percent without the aid package. With the CARES Act, poverty increased to 12.7 percent. Public funding must continue and include access to mental healthcare to help alleviate the added stressors of the pandemic.

Healthcare workers and those who are responsible for the care and well-being of ill family members are on the front line of the pandemic. They endure long hours in a high stress environment as they work to take care of those sickened by the virus. They not only worry about those they oversee, they worry about contracting the disease themselves, or even worse, passing it to a beloved family member. They are also shouldering the burden of both the lack of supplies and cohesive plan to combat the pandemic.

Mental health experts believe that many in the position of providing healthcare are suffering from PTSD. Dr. Shaili Jain, a PTSD specialist, writes about what she thinks will be “an epidemic of PTSD” among frontline healthcare workers. She cites case studies from doctors who worked on Ebola patients during the 2014–2016 outbreak. Many suffered from PTSD which can lead to depression and other mental health problems. Dr. Jain believes the mental health community can develop and implement psychological therapies to treat and manage healthcare workers who develop PTSD. She writes, “For such actions to succeed requires more than lip service, trite words of sympathy and rhetoric, rather a long-term commitment to resources, funds and unequivocal societal support is what is needed.”

It is imperative that we find a way for low-income families and frontline healthcare workers to have easy access to mental health programs in order to lessen the overwhelming stress of dealing with the trauma of COVID-19 as well as the residual (long term) effects. Low-income families need aid packages that include mental healthcare and should continue long after the pandemic is over. Studies prove that improving access to healthcare, including mental health, for the poor will reduce poverty in the long-term. The Village Life Center offers comprehensive mental health services that can provide the support needed to recover from the trauma of COVID-19. As our vision states, our programs promote and encourage hope, wellness, and recovery to all individuals and families in our community. We are here for you. Let us help you get back to calm waters.