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More people seeking mental health services during pandemic, rise in community violence

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 18:43:21-05

BEREA, Ohio — The COVID-19 pandemic, increasing community violence, and seasonal changes all serve as sources of stress, anxiety, and depression for many people.

Behavioral health agency OhioGuidestone has seen a significant increase in the amount of people seeking mental health help over the last two years.

“People are tired I think; I think we're wearing down,” said Dr. Ben Kearney, the executive vice-president and chief clinical officer at OhioGuidestone.

Violence, illness, death — the grimmest parts of life are now amplified more than ever across the country and in Northeast Ohio amid a spike in crime and COVID cases.

“It makes us fearful about our relationships, about our security, and how to just get through this day at a time, week at a time, month at a time,” said Kearney.

Kearney said people manifest their stress and anxiety in different ways, like acting out or keeping it bottled up inside.

He said neither are healthy choices.

“So first of all, when you need help, reach out and ask for help. And secondly, if you can help, help, and find some people that you can help, because it will make you stronger, it'll make you more resilient,” said Kearney.

But it's not just about treating your mind well — your body needs some love too.

“What you're doing from a day-to-day basis and what you're putting into your body every day greatly affects just even the way your brain works,” said Erin Troy, the wellness director at the West Shore Family YMCA in Westlake.

Troy said people should pay attention to their nutrition, getting enough sleep and exercising because the work put into maintaining a healthy body can impact the mind and how you approach life’s challenges.

“Okay, I can do this, so therefore I can take that same mental and physical strength and I can apply elsewhere in my life that I'm dealing with any sort of other struggle,” said Troy.

But above all, whatever you do to cope with mental health struggles, Kearney said connecting with other people is key to making it through.

“Re-explore your social connections, re-explore your spiritual connections, find support and strength in your extended family. Make an attempt to very intentionally reach out to each other. And we've got to keep doing that during times of stress because that will build our capacity just to be resilient,” said Kearney.

If you're in need of mental health or addiction services, contact OhioGuidestone at 844-622-5564.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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