Congresswoman Miller addresses negative impact of lockdowns on mental health, opioid crises

WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a Ways and Means Committee hearing titled, “America’s Mental Health Crisis,” Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV) shed light on the negative impact COVID-19 lockdowns have on people struggling with mental health or substance abuse.

Between April 2020 and April 2021, there were more than 1,600 drug overdose deaths in West Virginia and 100,000 drug overdose deaths nationwide, an increase of 28.5 percent from the same period in the prior year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has previously connected increases in drug overdose deaths to the nationwide COVID-19 response.

Congresswoman Miller’s remarks as prepared:

Thank you, Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Brady, and to all of our witnesses for being here.

We’re nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. With every new variant that rises to the surface, there are constant, looming threats of reverting back to the isolating lockdowns that occurred back in March 2020.

We completely shut down our economy. Children weren’t allowed to go to school or interact in person with their classmates. If you were lucky, your work went remote. However, millions of Americans lost their jobs and their livelihoods.

Between April 2020 and April 2021, there were 100,000 drug overdose deaths, an increase of nearly thirty percent from the previous year. 1,600 West Virginians were lost.

Thanks to a historic investment from Congress in the SUPPORT Act and your work at SAMSHA during the Trump Administration, we were finally starting to turn a corner in addressing the opioid crisis prior to the pandemic. However, the COVID-19 public health emergency set us back. As we emerge from this pandemic, we must evaluate the effect constant lockdowns have on patients.