Background: The pandemic caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has forced governments to implement strict social mitigation strategies to reduce the morbidity and mortality from acute infections. These strategies, however, carry a significant risk for mental health, which can lead to increased short-term and long-term mortality and is currently not included in modeling the impact of the pandemic.
Methods: We used years of life lost (YLL) as the main outcome measure, applied to Switzerland as an example. We focused on suicide, depression, alcohol use disorder, childhood trauma due to domestic violence, changes in marital status, and social isolation, as these are known to increase YLL in the context of imposed restriction in social contact and freedom of movement. We stipulated a minimum duration of mitigation of 3 months based on current public health plans.
Results: The study projects that the average person would suffer 0.205 YLL due to psychosocial consequence of COVID-19 mitigation measures. However, this loss would be entirely borne by 2.1% of the population, who will suffer an average of 9.79 YLL.
Conclusions: The results presented here are likely to underestimate the true impact of the mitigation strategies on YLL. However, they highlight the need for public health models to expand their scope in order to provide better estimates of the risks and benefits of mitigation.
Keywords: Alcohol use disorder; COVID-19; depression; longevity; psychosocial stress; suicide.