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Local racial unrest has mental health calls for help up 25 to 30%

Posted at 9:42 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 23:17:36-04

CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio mental health experts report ongoing racial and civil unrest, following the Minneapolis police-involved death of George Floyd, has calls for help up 25 to 30% over the past two weeks.

Scott Osiecki, CEO with the Alcohol and Drug Addition and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County, told News 5 the ongoing effort to create change across the country has a growing number of people dealing with stress and a fear of the unknown.

“The entire community is trying to manage the current situation that we all find ourselves in,” Osiecki said.

“Individuals living with addiction and mental health issues in Cuyahoga County are really feeling the stress.”

“Since the demonstrations within the last week, there has been a 25% increase in calls to the Warmline, and these calls were about specifically dealing with anxiety.”

“People are afraid, people are also uncomfortable about how to talk about the situation."

Jane Granzier, Associate Director of Crisis Services at FrontLine Service, told News 5 calls to the 24-hour Suicide Prevention, Mental Health & Addiction Crisis, Information and Referral Hotline are up significantly.

Granzier said the African American community is facing growing frustration.

“Adult mental health, those calls have really escalated in April and May,” Granzier said.

“Telling somebody things are going to get better right away is just not true. Doing the work of therapy, talking to someone, and processing this is tough stuff.”

“It's frustration for our country, that we’re not further along than we are, which I think is chronic.”

“With the racial tension, I feel that there is the angst that people are doing work, that work is being done, but will it be sustained.”

Osiecki said people should be aware of the warning signs; fatigue, pain, memory issues, and increased use of alcohol or drugs.

Those facing anxiety over on-going civil unrest my also be dealing with difficulty concentrating on tasks at hand, there could be anger, irritability, or mood swings.

“Racism is something our country has been dealing with forever, and now that it has really come to the forefront and people know they have to do something about it, but people are not sure about it,” Osiecki said.

“How are we going to go about doing this, how can they participate in it, how can they do good works or solving the situation, so people are just anxious.”

Osiecki said working toward getting a good night's sleep, eating well, and planning outdoor activities is a good start toward reducing the stress and fear.

“Disconnect from social media for a while, just take a break from that, and even if the news is too much for people to handle now, it’s okay to shut that off for a couple of days," Osiecki said.

To contact the ADAMHS Board 24/7 Warmline, operated by Thrive, simply call 440-886-5950 to talk to a certified peer recovery coach - someone who is living in recovery from mental illness and/or addiction.

Residents can also call the 24-hour Suicide Prevention, Mental Health & Addiction Crisis, Information and Referral Hotline, operated by FrontLine Service, at 216-623-6888, or join an online chat on the FrontLine Service website, or Crisis Text at 741741.

The ADAMHS Board website contains multiple online resources for virtual support for mental illness and addictions.