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COVID-19 is taking a heavy toll on residents' mental health, experts say

Updated: Oct. 9, 2020 at 5:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - COVID-19 is taking a heavy toll on residents' mental health, experts say

According to a survey from the US Census Bureau. more than a third of Americans are showing signs of anxiety and depression. That’s triple what it was prior to the pandemic.

Hawaii mental providers are seeing the disturbing trend first-hand.

“We are just nonstop busy,” said Kumi Macdonald, the head of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Hawaii. Macdonald said since the start of the pandemic call volume has doubled.

She says the initial surge came a week after the governor shut down the state.

“Once the Black Lives Matter and the riots happened, oh my gosh, it skyrocketed again,” said Macdonald. “And then again when that new stay-at-home, partial stay-at-home was enacted.”

Rarely can you say something affects everybody. But the coronavirus has proved its reach extends far beyond just the people it infects.

From travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders to schools and businesses being shuttered and the more than 210,000 American lives lost ― it’s no wonder people are hurting.

Although there’s no official data yet on how the pandemic has impacted Hawaii’s suicide rate, those working on the front lines report an uptick.

“Homeless shelters, people who are doing therapy, doctors, providers are all saying this. As well as what we see in our office,” said Macdonald.

As a person living in recovery from depression and anxiety herself, Macdonald is urging people to get help if they need it. "You’re not alone,” she said. “Contact us. Contact a friend. Or a faith group or church group and just talk about it. That’s the first step.”

Saturday marks World Mental Health Day.

Instead of gathering for the group’s annual march, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Hawaii is invited to unite virtually on Facebook.

“We’re going to do yoga, meditation and some wonderful sharing of stories,” said Macdonald.

“If it’s more than just stress we’re here to help connect you with services. here’s a lot of free mental health therapy available. There’s support groups available classes available. So don’t hesitate to reach out. Everything is confidential with us.”

For more information on the virtual walk, click here.

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