Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a motion Tuesday to direct city staff and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to report on the possible creation of an educational campaign to help people identify mental or emotional health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The all-hands-on-deck campaign about COVID-19 worked well in getting the word out about the spread of the virus. Now we need additional focus on its mental health impacts,” Koretz said. “People who are on the frontlines, our medical workers and first responders, are obviously at high, exhausted risk.”
Koretz said the increasing death tolls, massive unemployment rates, economic struggles, uncertainty about the future and forced isolation while constant coverage of the pandemic is streamed worldwide have already had “profoundly negative effect upon the general populace.”
He said in order to assist people overburdened by the pandemic, Los Angeles needs to take steps to highlight mental health care options available.
Mental health professionals have been reporting “general upticks” in suicide rates, people having anxiety, addictive and self-destructive behavior as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. He said long-term statistics won’t be available for months.
“The mental anguish from our current coronavirus pandemic is disastrous. Living in a world of constant fear and change, people are struggling to cope,” said Dr. Katja Pohl, a clinical health and trauma psychologist. “There isn’t enough support for people to understand what they are struggling with and how to get help.”
Koretz’s motion will first be heard by the council’s Health, Education, Neighborhood, Parks and Recreation Committee.