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Fallout from Mental Health Crisis Spawned by COVID-19 Disruption Will Likely Continue for Years

Steven Berkowitz, MD, discusses whether any of us will ever be the same – and that wholesale change could be a good thing in the long run

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What You Need To Know

CU Anschutz 360: COVID Reflections is a series of episodes discussing the COVID-19 pandemic to date with CU Anschutz's top experts. They examine what has changed, what has surprised them, how they have evolved personally and professionally and what could happen in the future.

Dr. Steven Berkowitz is a psychiatrist specializing in trauma in children and adolescents. He says the pandemic has taken a mental health toll on all of us, especially Generation Z, the young people who lived through 9/11, natural disasters and a rapidly changing climate. The impacts, he says, will far outlast the pandemic.

When the pandemic struck last winter, it upended our lives in ways few could have imagined. Many of us work from home now, our kids go to school online, we wear masks and avoid our elderly or sick relatives for fear of passing along a potentially deadly illness. Meanwhile, lockdowns and isolation have spawned a mental health crisis that we are only now beginning to fully grasp.

In this series of podcasts, we talk to some of our top experts about the evolution of the coronavirus – where we were, where we are, where we will be a year from now. Each one has a gift for making the complex accessible and are frequently sought out by the media for their expertise. 

Listen to CU Anschutz 360: COVID Reflections with Steven Berkowitz, MD:


“Every experience changes us to some extent. And so, experience of prolonged stress…is going to change every one of us, and not necessarily for the worse. There will be growth that occurs. But no, nobody is going to walk out of this the same. And frankly, I hope they don't.” Steven Berkowitz, MD, professor of psychiatry at CU Anschutz.

In any medical emergency, they say, the first thing to do is stop the bleeding. In the early days of the pandemic, that meant getting PPE to the right people, making sure there were enough ventilators and ICU beds. Yet as the months dragged on another pandemic of sorts emerged – one characterized by increased rates of depression, anxiety, suicide and despair. Dr. Steven Berkowitz, a psychiatrist, says the fallout from this mental health crisis will continue for years to come.

In this podcast, Berkowitz, who specializes in trauma in children and adolescents, talks about the growing psychological struggles facing parents, healthcare workers and young people as they deal with lockdowns, isolation, social distancing and school closings.

He considers the toll it’s taking on what he calls Gen Z, the youth who lived through 9/11, countless natural disasters, a rapidly changing climate and now the most disruptive event in most of our lifetimes.

Berkowitz also talks about extraordinary societal changes, which would have once taken years, now happening virtually overnight. How will we recover? Will we ever be the same?