Depression, anxiety on the rise in North Carolina during pandemic

And times will get tougher for many with the stress of the new school year

Depression, anxiety on the rise in North Carolina during pandemic

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Health care providers are seeing an increase in overdoses and alcohol abuse as the coronavirus pandemic continues in North Carolina.

Last week, state health leaders highlighted a dramatic increase in anxiety and depression, stating that the numbers have tripled. The state also reported a 15 percent increase in emergency department visits for opioid overdoses.

Mindy France, a therapist at Novant Health, said some are turning to substances because they feel a lack of control due to the pandemic.

She stressed that those who are struggling should not hesitate to reach out for help.

“I guarantee you there are very few people in this world that don’t need some type of emotional support at some point in time,” she said.

France said Novant Health has a 24-hour hotline for people to call, if they are experiencing depression, stress or anxiety.

Novant Health’s Behavioral Health Call Center can be reached at 1-800-786-1585.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates one in five American adults lives with a mental health issue. Even for those who have not been diagnosed with a named illness, the stress, disruption and isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic can be overwhelming.

A poll conducted in April by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 45% of respondents said “their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus.”

The stress levels for many are expected to go up, as children return to school. With the transition to online learning or for those who are doing a hybrid of learning from home and in person, there is a lot more to consider.

France said it will be difficult for some children.

“Adults have a hard time with change and children are going to have a really difficult time, so I think providing them with the education or knowledge that this is how it’s going to be it’s going to be will be helpful for them,” she said. “I know that is difficult for parents at this point because they don’t know what it’s going to look like. But I think just trying to prepare them as much as we can ahead of time on what to expect will be helpful.”

As for parents, she said don’t wait until you are at your breaking point to ask for help.

“It’s a lot for parents to grasp onto, teaching at the same time as working and then taking care of their family, cooking and all the day-to-day things,” she said. “I think that just paying attention to yourself and realizing that we’re all human and we can only do so much and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all.”

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