New data finds that this group of people faces higher risks when it comes to contracting and battling COVID-19.
A lot of factors can affect whether or not a person has a higher risk of developing COVID-19. But now we’re learning that research from the past two years of the pandemic has shown that people with mental health conditions and disorders are at higher risk of developing the disease.
A study published last year showed links between worse COVID-19 infections and people who were diagnosed with mental health conditions. The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Luming Li, spoke with NPR about their findings and what these higher levels of mortality could mean.
“What we found was we had a higher level of mortality for those that had a prior psychiatric history,” said Dr. Li. The data gathered found that people with a history of mental illness had 50% more risk of death from COVID-19 than people with no history of mental illness. Aside from having worse outcomes once the disease is contracted, studies also show that mental health disorders make it more likely for people to get COVID-19 in the first place.
Researchers have a lot of theories as to why this might be occurring. For starters, people dealing with a mental health condition might take care of themselves less than others. They might also be isolated, thus increasing their odds of experiencing other diseases.
These people are also more likely to have worse mental and physical health than others, coping with chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and more. There are also medications such as antipsychotics, which increase the risk of chronic health problems.
Lastly, it’s important to account for the homeless population in this country, which is comprised of about 40% of people who cope with some form of serious mental health illness, and who are also more at risk for COVID-19.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prioritize people with mental health disorders, it’s very important for all people that are aware of this to help out their closest friends and family members, advising them on getting their vaccine or booster. These numbers are significant and must be kept in mind as the pandemic continues to progress and change.