• Bill McLean

Impact of the Unknowns

We find ourselves in an extended season of unknowns. Our healthcare systems and daily lives have been impacted by a global pandemic. Just as our cultural and political structures have struggled with current and historical injustices that have injured so many.

The extended season of unknowns has created a sense of isolation and feelings of being overwhelmed for many people. This has impacted us in many ways. An important way that is often ignored or talked about only in whispers is what the impact has been on mental health.

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center,

“One year into the societal convulsions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, about a fifth of U.S. adults (21%) are experiencing high levels of psychological distress, including nearly three-in-ten (28%) among those who say the outbreak has changed their lives in “a major way.” The share of the public experiencing psychological distress has edged down slightly since March 2020 but remains elevated among some groups in the population. Concerns about both the personal health and the financial threats from the pandemic are associated with high levels of psychological distress.”


This new psychological distress is in addition to the overwhelming statistics related to mental illness in a “normal” year like 2019:

  • 1 in 5 US adults (roughly 51.5 million people) experience mental illness each year, but less than half get treatment.

  • 1 in 6 US youth (roughly 7.7 million people) experience a mental health condition each year, but only half get treatment. (Source: NAMI)

Yet, we are not without hope. If you or someone you know is experiencing psychological distress or mental illness, there are resources available to assist you. Among these resources is information available through groups such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at:

May is National Mental Health Awareness month and there are many resources available for congregations so that they can support their members and communities. Resources from the Presbyterian Church (USA) about Mental Health Month are available at:

With the heightened stress and anxiety of this past year, please know that you are not alone. Your sisters and brothers in Christ across the presbytery and throughout the world are here to support you. If you would like to talk about these issues, please give me a call, send me an email, letter, or text.

Grace and peace, Bill Rev. William "Bill" McLean, II Presbyter for Congregational Care Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois

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