RICHMOND, Va. — Gospel music echoed across Brown’s Island on an overcast Sunday as a crowd of hundreds listened in a field next to the James River.
Lisa Rogerson and her husband, Rick Rickman, regard music heard at the Richmond Folk Festival as therapeutic, especially during a pandemic that has disrupted so many lives.
“I think it was harder on Lisa,” Rickman recalled. “She was very social. We are able to see friends now and I can tell she was down and depressed.”
In December, more than 42 percent of Americans reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That figure is an increase of 11 percent from 2019.
WTVR CBS 6 spoke to Margo Webb, a social worker with the Richmond-Henrico Health Districts, during World Mental Health Day.
The overall objective of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health, according to the World Health Organization website.
The day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
Webb has witnessed firsthand the impacts of the pandemic.
“It was difficult before, but I’d say the pandemic aggravated it even more,” Webb explained. “During the pandemic we saw a lot of increase in anxiety, depression, folks worried concerned about financial burden, work, children and childcare.”
She described the pandemic as bittersweet. Among the loss of jobs and lives due to the coronavirus, the lockdowns did allow many to sit and think about their mental health.
“Mental health is super important, and we have to quit treating it like an afterthought or waiting until it gets really bad to address these things,” Webb stated.
Webb encouraged individuals experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression to not wait and seek help.
Roberson and Rickman have never missed a Folk Festival event since its inception, absent of the 2020 festival canceled due to the coronavirus.
“It’s good for the soul,” Rogerson said. “We definitely needed it this year.”