COVID-19 and Mental Health – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 most commonly affects the lungs and respiratory system, but it can also affect other parts of the body. Some people develop post-COVID conditions, also called long COVID . These symptoms may include neurological symptoms such as difficulty thinking or concentrating, problems sleeping, and depression or anxiety.

Why is NIMH studying COVID-19 and mental health?

Both SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly affected the mental health of adults and children. Many people experienced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder during the pandemic. Data also suggests that people are more likely to develop mental illnesses or disorders in the months after COVID-19 infection. People with long COVID may experience many symptoms related to brain function and mental health .

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had widespread impacts on mental health, some people are more likely to be affected than others. This includes people from racial and ethnic minority groups, mothers and pregnant people, people with financial and housing insecurity, children, people with disabilities, people with pre-existing mental illness or substance use problems, and health care workers.

How does NIMH research address this critical issue?

NIMH supports research to understand and address the mental health impacts of the pandemic. This includes research to understand how COVID-19 affects people with existing mental illnesses throughout their lives. NIMH also supports research to help meet people’s mental health needs during the pandemic and beyond. This includes research focused on making mental health services more accessible through telehealth, digital tools, and community interventions.

NIMH is also working to understand the unique impacts of the pandemic on specific groups of people, including people in underserved communities and children. For example, NIMH supports research into how pandemic-related factors, such as school disruptions, can influence children’s brain, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Where can I get more information about COVID-19 and mental health?

Where can I get more information about Long COVID and COVID-19?

How can I find help for mental health problems?

If you have concerns about your mental health, talk to a primary care provider. They may refer you to a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or clinical social worker, who can help you determine next steps. Find tips for talking to a healthcare provider about your mental health.

You can learn more about how to get help on the NIMH website. You can also get information on how to find support. and locate mental health services in your area on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.

Last revision: May 2024