Need for mental health services grows during pandemic

From The Herald Bulletin

Reach out.

That’s the advice of Lisa Suttle, regional vice president of clinical services at Meridian Health Services.

“I can’t reinforce enough if you’re having troubles, just daily struggles, reach out, reach out to family, reach to a professional,” Suttle said.

“Definitely don’t let it get so far gone that it totally takes over, or you get to the point of where you’re feeling like you might want to hurt yourself or someone else.”

Suttle said when to seek help is different for everybody. A sign that it’s time is if depression or anxiety is interfering with your daily activities.

You stop going to work, feel really anxious or withdraw from family and friends are signs it’s time to get help.

Your first step doesn’t have to be directly to a psychiatrist, Suttle said. You can discuss it with your regular doctor even if you’re at their office for a different reason.

“It’s really important that they’re talking to health care providers about anything that may be going on,” she said.

Meridian has seen an increased need for its mental health services during the pandemic.

“I would say probably end of May early June we started seeing an increase for sure,” said Alysha Nemore, Meridian Health Services children’s services program manager for Delaware and Madison counties.

“And not only with our patients that we’ve already been seeing but I would say those that haven’t really experienced a mental health issue that are experiencing that now.”

Nemore said she’s also seen increased reports of abuse and domestic violence.

Stressors brought on by the pandemic including loss of a job or being stuck at home can lead to anxiety, depression or a feeling of hopelessness.

Things can be especially daunting for parents with young children as they juggle work, child care and helping their children with remote learning.

Nemore stresses the importance of establishing a routine with children.

Setting a regular time to get up, eat meals, complete school work and a regular bed time.

“Keeping kids in a routine, even though everything is not normal helps them feel more secure,” Nemore said.