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Mental health experts see devastating firsthand impacts of COVID-19

Posted at 11:57 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 00:00:53-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The emotional impact of COVID 19 has mental healthcare workers on alert.

Globally and in Central Virginia, healthcare workers note an increase in reports of fear, anxiety and depression, further complicated by the disruption of medical care, social isolation and financial uncertainty.

While local mental healthcare workers say they’re not aware of a spike in suicides, the pandemic has caused several people to reach out for help in a state of crisis.

In Chesterfield County, the Department of Mental Health said they are receiving anywhere from two to twelve calls a day for assistance.

“There’s been certain days or weekends that we might see more calls than others,” said Executive Director Kelly Fried. “I know during April when there was prom, we saw a higher number of calls in teenagers because that was an important event they were missing. So there’s different things that trigger higher calls but we stand ready, at any point, to serve individuals.”

While the pandemic has been an especially difficult time for the elderly, the isolated, and those with underlying mental health disorders, its impact has been far reaching.

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health has established a resource page to help people find support services for themselves or a loved one who is struggling.

Additionally,the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is also available to help callers who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or need coping strategies. The Disaster Distress Helpline is 1-800-985-5990. You can also text TalkWithUs to 66746.

Local mental health departments have also set up crisis hotlines and resource links, and are offering telehealth and outpatients appointments when necessary. The Chesterfield County Mental Health Department said that they have clinical workers who are on staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help.

Healthcare workers say it’s important to take care of your mental health, especially during this time.

“I think what’s really important is that individuals be patient with yourself and be kind with yourself,” Fried says. “These are very challenging times for everyone. It’s really important to eat healthy and try to exercise and try to get as much light as you can, going outside really makes a difference in your mood.”

Fried also says reaching out and helping other people, can contribute to your own mental wellbeing.

“Helping others really makes people feel good in such times as these,” Fried says.

To schedule an outpatient appointment in Chesterfield, call (804)768-7318. To talk with someone on the crisis hotline, contact (804)748-6356.