Is Seeing Believing? New Data Visualization Tool Helps Americans Understand COVID-19’s Long-Term Mental Health Impacts

Interactive visualization uses empathy to reveal the pandemic’s potential 2020–2029 toll
Oakland, CA — Oct. 13, 2020 –– Well Being Trust, a national foundation dedicated to improving the nation’s mental, social and spiritual well-being, and internationally recognized data visualization firm Periscopic today released Lifelines: A Pandemic Undertow.
Lifelines calls attention to the urgent need for U.S. mental health and addiction support in the context of coronavirus-related recession and isolation. The online interactive data tool allows visitors to explore the support structures that provide mental and economic health to our society, and to understand what happens when they are eroded or fail completely.
“Between the fear of contracting a novel virus, passing the virus along to vulnerable loved ones, making ends meet during this economic downturn, and on top of all that, concern about the results of the upcoming election, thousands of Americans are currently experiencing feelings of hopelessness and despair,” said Benjamin F. Miller, PsyD, Well Being Trust’s Chief Strategy Officer. “If each of us don’t do our part to help the members of our community rise above these unprecedented challenges, we could experience one of the greatest unnecessary losses our nation has ever seen.”
Lifelines draws on the fact that many people may now be feeling as though they are underwater, concerning when you consider that under normal circumstances, tens of thousands of Americans die by suicide and accidental alcohol and drug overdose each year. Because these deaths are often so stigmatized, national dialogue and help for individuals and their families has faltered, leaving those in need without resources or options.
Under the worst-case economic recovery scenario, nearly 2 million Americans could die from such “deaths of despair” between 2020–2029. By comparison, that’s approximately 400,000 more people than those that passed from despair between 2007–2018.
“We are committed to visualizing data in a way that helps people better consider the key issues contributing to our societal problems,” said Skye Moret, Periscopic Design Director. “There are so many ways to bring stigmatized yet incredibly human stories to light – access to robust and contextual data is an important first step.”
Lifelines was developed by Periscopic as a self-funded, public service project with generous domain expertise and data from the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care and Well Being Trust. Periscopic hopes to expand this work to illuminate how deaths of despair are unevenly impacting people separated by social, geographic, and economic divides.
See the visualization:
About Well Being Trust
Well Being Trust is a national foundation dedicated to advancing the mental, social, and spiritual health of the nation. Created to include participation from organizations across sectors and perspectives, Well Being Trust is committed to innovating and addressing the most critical mental health challenges facing America, and to transforming individual and community well-being. Twitter: @WellBeingTrust
About Periscopic
Periscopic is an award-winning data visualization firm that converts raw data into visual and interactive experiences designed to help people to empathize and understand. The firm, whose tagline is “Do good with data,” partners with organizations that are committed to using data to promote transparency and public awareness. Twitter: @periscopic