NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) – The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates one in five American adults lives with a mental health issue.
Even for those who have not been diagnosed with a named illness, the stress, disruption and isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has been overwhelming, making this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month particularly meaningful.
A poll conducted in April by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 45% of respondents said “their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus.”
The Federal Disaster Distress Hotline fielded around 7,000 calls and 19,000 text messages from those who needed help in March alone, eight times the usual amount.
Novant Health has seen similar indicators, with its mental health hotline getting 1,961 calls in April, which is a large amount according to a spokesperson.
Novant therapist Mindy France said as stay-at-home orders have progressed, emergency rooms and mental health resources have seen an increase in people seeking help.
“I think initially, people were hopeful that it would go away quickly, and now the realization is setting in that, you know, it’s here for a while, and this is kind of the new normal. So I think they’re trying to cope,” she said.
France said everything from anxiety and depression to substance abuse disorders can be exacerbated by the isolation of staying home day in and day out, as well as dealing with working from home and taking care of children.
“A lot of people are having issues, you know, there’s a lot more pressure on them, you know, with social distancing, some of them just, you know, they’re stuck at home, they don’t have anything else to do, you know, an idle mind, you know, can lead to a lot of different unhealthy behaviors,” she said.
While many institutions and practices have offered telemedicine and teletherapy during this time, not everyone has access to those resources, she said, but things are starting to improve with clinics reopening along CDC guidelines.
As things go on, France said people should not be afraid of getting help.
“They should keep in mind that just taking one day at a time, and I always tell my patients and people that I interact with, ‘don’t beat yourself up,” she said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
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