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Alone and in Silence: Experts say mental health is a growing problem amid the pandemic

Posted at 7:25 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 12:14:39-05

TULSA, Okla. — Millions of people are struggling to deal with the pandemic every day, often in silence and alone.

Mental health experts now fear mental health issues may become the next pandemic after COVID-19 is behind us. Mental health issues often go unnoticed and unseen. But mental health experts are fighting it on the frontline of this new kind of pandemic.

“I could feel the stress of everything getting to me,” Jennifer Patterson said.

Patterson felt her anxiety and depression worsen in the beginning of the pandemic. The uncertainty of life at that time triggered a mental health crisis for her.

“It kind of triggered me into a psychotic state,” she said.

Since then, Patterson is taking medication and sees a therapist twice a month to help her cope with the stresses of the pandemic. Similar to Patterson, Mike Abbey is also a victim of mental health issues. He’s seen his depression return after years of having it under control.

“Sometimes you get in a rut and you can’t find a way to pull yourself out," Abbey said.

Abbey said he often feels an overwhelming sense of “hopelessness” since the beginning of the pandemic, and has seen others face depression similar to what he’s learned to cope with.

Dr. Art Rousseau, a psychiatrist and member of the state’s COVID-19 task force, has seen this trend first-hand.

“Within my own practice, I can’t think of a single patient that I’ve had that hasn't had some kind of impact,” Dr. Rousseau said.

However, Dr. Rousseau said there are few things you can do now to help mitigate worsening mental health issues.

  • First, find healthy ways to cope with the stress. He suggests riding a bike outside or going for a hike. It can even be learning a new instrument.
  • Second, find new ways to connect with family or friends, even if it is virtually.
  • Finally, it’s important to learn to accept the new normal and know that the pandemic is only temporary.

Mental Health Association’s Rebecca Hubbard echoed a similar sentiment.

“Understanding and accepting this is just where we’re at,” Hubbard said. “Focusing on your strengths and what you CAN do versus what you CAN’T do.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health there are resources that can help. You can call the Mental Health Association Oklahoma’s call center is at 918-585-1213 to find helpful resources relating to mental health. You can also visit their website by clicking here.

The National Alliance of Mental health is another outlet for additional resources. You can learn more by calling their help line at 918-587-6264 or visit their website by clicking here.

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