Mental health trends worrisome

While most are familiar with the visible symptoms that come along with COVID-19, the virus has also impacted thousands of people in ways not as easily diagnosed.

Health experts at the national, state, and local levels are becoming increasingly concerned that the pandemic is fueling a mental health crisis unlike anything they’ve ever seen.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, almost four times as many adults in the United States are reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to October of 2019.

Of those surveyed, 32.3% of adults are feeling anxiety and 24.3% are showing symptoms of depression. In addition, 13.3% have said they’ve battled substance abuse problems and 10.7% have considered suicide.

The changes brought on by the pandemic have especially impacted young people. Nearly 45% of adults surveyed aged 18 to 29 recently reported symptoms of anxiety while 39% have experienced symptoms of depression.

Local mental health experts say they’re not surprised by the recent statistics, as they’re seeing an increase in demand for mental health services.

Julie Miller, executive director of Family Service Inc., recently told The Republic she thinks the county could see a dramatic rise in suicides, substance abuse and even cardiovascular problems and diabetes as the pandemic rages on.

Not all of the deaths are correlated to mental health, but Bartholomew County has seen a surge in overdose deaths this year. The county has already surpassed last year’s total with 27 (and one additional pending) recorded deaths.

Local police have confirmed Miller’s worries, as they’ve said they’ve seen an increase in domestic disturbances, domestic disputes, drug overdoses and alcohol-related calls. Calls were especially high in the early spring at the start of the pandemic in the U.S.

With the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rising in Indiana, experts predict the need for mental health services will also increase. Dr. Darrin Carr, clinical assistant professor of psychology and director of the master’s program in mental health counseling at IUPUC, said there could be long-lasting negative mental health issues as a society because of the virus.

There’s no easy answer to solving the developing mental health crisis.

With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing statewide, it’s imperative that some public health guidelines, like wearing masks, stay in place. At the same time, another statewide lock down also isn’t the answer, as it could lead to more unemployment.

The trends are worrisome, and deserve our attention. For the time being, it’s imperative that the mental health services in place are used by those that need them.

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  • Family Service Inc. — Provides mental health counseling and other services. 1531 13th St., Suite 2540, Columbus, IN 47201. Contact (812) 372-3745.
  • Human Services Inc. — Provides emergency assistance that is income-based. 4355 E. County Road 600N, Columbus, IN 47203. Contact: 800-296-8026 or (812) 372-8407.
  • Indiana National Guard Family Assistance Program — Provides assistance to active duty Guard families or veterans of any branch. 711 N. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, IN 46204. Contact: 800-237-2850, Ext. 72694.
  • Salvation Army Corps of Bartholomew County — Provides emergency assistance, when funding is available. 2525 Illinois Ave., Columbus, IN 47201. Contact: (812) 327-7118.
  • Lincoln Central Neighborhood Family Center — Assistance provided for residents of LCNF service area, only when other assistance is exhausted. 1039 Sycamore St., Columbus, IN 47201. Contact: (812) 379-1630.
  • Love Chapel. 292 Center St., Columbus, IN 47201. Contact: (812) 372-9421.
  • United Way of Bartholomew County — Can help those in need of assistance connect with other agencies. 1531 13th St., Suite 1100, Columbus, IN 47201. Contact: 2-1-1 or (812) 376-3001.
  • Columbus Township Trustee — Provides emergency assistance for township residents. Contact: 812-372-8249. (Columbus City Utilities can also provide contact numbers for trustees of other townships).