Mental health issues on the rise amid COVID-19 pandemic

NOW: Mental health issues on the rise amid COVID-19 pandemic

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Since the coronavirus outbreak people have been isolating themselves from everyday social interactions.

Since stay at home orders have been in Marrch, the substance abuse and mental health services administration (SAMHSA) has seen an uptick in phone calls.

The pandemic is causing even more fear and anxiety-not only for those who already have underlying mental illnesses, but also for those who’ve hidden or ignored their problems in the past.

"When you get to a slow down it becomes very difficult for people to manage all the feelings that come up at once,” said Rhonda Gipson Willis, Licensed Therapist and Life Coach. “And what’s happening during this time is, that what they’re doing finding themselves in this place of isolation and some don’t know where to reach out to or how to find the help that they need."

Willis said that isolation can lead people to focus and dwell on their own thoughts, dredging up issues once under control.

"Sometimes their thoughts can turn against them, and so it’s very important to have people outside to act as pyrometers as to the reality of your situation. One of the things about depression and anxiety is it causes you to create this false narrative about yourself and the environment and about what’s happening. So being in community and connection to other people can help refute that and can be beneficial," Willis said.

In March, the U.S Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress help line saw a 338 percent increase in calls compared to February. There was also an 891 percent increase compared to March of last year.

Willis says people shouldn’t be afraid to reach out when they need the help.

“That’s what the true strength is. Just recognizing that so many people have been so strong for so long it’s time that they allow themselves the opportunity to just be real,” Willis said.

If you or someone you know is dwelling on negative thoughts –you can call the 24-hour suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “HOME” to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor.

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