Pandemic affecting mental health as some agencies see more calls

Coronavirus Watch

(WEHT) The rising number of COVID-19 cases is impacting more than just physical health. The tragedy is also touching mental health.

That impact comes to a head for some people once restrictions are lifted.

“What we’ve seen in our region is there seems to be this mentality to hunker down, to make sure they’re going to be O.K., there’s a lag and then when the crisis passes, that’s when we see the impact on mental health to where they start trying to access services,” said Eric Embry, CEO of Pennyroyal Center in Hopkinsville, which covers Hopkins, Muhlenberg and other western Kentucky counties. He says his center had up to more than 400 calls to their crisis center in one day about two months ago, but it lowered to more than 250. Many of those calls were related to pandemic related affects.

“The phone calls that are coming into it that are related are anxiety, depression related with social distancing CDC guidelines, being self-quarantined at home,” he said. Embry also says call volume could go up this summer once the pandemic subsides.

A Kaiser Family Foundation study done in March shows 21% of people say worry or stress related health has a major negative impact on their mental health. Another 27% say its a minor impact. Doctor Jennifer Sullivan of the Indiana Family And Social Service Administration says calls to her agency increased. and they added more experts

“We’re also tracking those numbers through our mental health division. Those trends are ones that have really prompted us to build up those systems for mental health so that we can get to people early,” she said during Wednesday briefing.

Embry adds they haven’t gotten to the point to where they need to add more people to their crisis center to handle any possible future increase.

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(This story was originally published on May 7, 2020)

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