The pandemic is remembered as a major public health crisis, but it was also a serious mental health emergency.
Kaiser Family Foundation says 4 in 10 adults report symptoms of anxiety and depression during a pandemic.. This is compared to one tenth of 2019.
Michelle Calvert is Director of Quality and Strategic Innovation at Comcare, a community mental health center serving Sedgwick County.
She talked to Tom Shine and The Range about what Comcare has experienced since the pandemic began. When should people seek treatment, and what happens next for mental health as the pandemic subsides.
The interview was edited for length and clarity.
Tom Shine: In the first few months (of the pandemic), there were fewer phone calls, fewer referrals, and everything calmed down.
Since July, more cases have been steadily increasing since then. What is typical of what you see after July?
Michelle Calvert: Our overall trend since the beginning of the pandemic is that people are generally not reaching out for help. I see people who are mentally ill and have high mental health needs. There is an increase in aggression and an increase in mental illness. So we are just seeing this huge need starting to bubbling.
Why don’t they ask for help when it’s there?
There is a big stigma associated with mental health and seeking help.
Still in the passage of time?
Still in the passage of time. There’s a lot to do with negative mental illness and we really want to encourage the community to say this. If you need help, ask for help. “
And there are people here 24 hours a day who want to help you.
How do people know when to seek treatment? I think we all have a day like a dump or a blue depression. What is the difference between that and a serious mental health problem?
I know it’s time to ask for help when someone feels depressed, anxious, or struggling. Their lives are beginning to be affected. So living, laughing, and loving are a bit of a cliché, but when mental health is affecting your way of life, you’re having a hard time going to work or functioning normally. .. If you are suffering from a relationship; you are struggling to find joy and what you would normally find joy. Those are when you need to reach out for some help.
What lessons did the pandemic teach us about treating mental health?
So I think the pandemic really taught us to take care of each other and know what’s going on. And it really helped us to know that we need to support each other as much as possible.
Hopefully we’re nearing the end of the pandemic. Sure, we’re taking the first step to get there, but I think the mental health problem will continue for some time. Is it a fair evaluation?
I think it’s absolutely correct. Mental health problems will last for quite some time. And I expect them to get worse before they get better.
However, national surveys show that suicidal ideation and attempted suicide tend to decrease after a natural disaster. However, that same study suggests that distress, depression, anxiety and PTSD often increase after these disasters.
Now, the pot is really boiling with mental health, and I think the pandemic is getting hot.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact Comcare 24 hours a day at 316-660-7500 or sedgwickcounty.org/comcare..
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