By Crystal Mullen-Johnson
Autumn has arrived. Friends and families are reconnecting, and the world has reopened following a global pandemic. Though some have adapted to the altered life we have all experienced, the mental health implications of COVID-19 remain for many others.
In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should all prioritize mental health. Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States from April – June of 2020, the midst of the pandemic, as compared with the same period in 2019. There is a clear need for mental health services during this challenging time.
Therapists are providing more grief counseling and more clients are presenting with anxiety, stress, trauma, suicidal ideations, and depression. This significant increase is undoubtedly due to the pandemic. As the demand for services increases, accessibility to treatment must also increase. There is a scarcity of mental health funding and therapist appointment times. Moreover, many who are uninsured, or underinsured, are not able to afford on-going therapy.
If you are experiencing psychological or behavioral problems, you are not alone. This wave of a mental health crisis impacts everyone. Seek help if you need support. If you are a pastor, teacher, or employer and you believe someone is in need of mental health support, please utilize the resources noted below.
Those seeking mental health support should contact their insurance company and inquire about behavioral health benefits. Those who are uninsured should contact non-profit organizations, such as Oasis Family Counseling, Impact Family Counseling, Catholic Family Services, Gateway, Affordable Counseling Therapy, or a local health center and inquire about mental health treatment. Those in need of therapy should utilize the database available at www.psychologytoday.com to search for a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or counselor. Click on the “Find a Therapist” drop down and conduct a search based on issue, insurance, gender, zip code, age, and types of therapy needed.
Be mindful of the following distinctions when seeking mental health treatment:
- A licensed psychiatrist is a medical doctor that diagnoses, prescribes medication, and provides psychotherapy to treat behavioral and mental health disorders.
- A licensed psychologist provides psychological testing and psychotherapy to treat behavioral and mental health disorders.
- A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and a licensed counselor (LPC) is trained to provide psychotherapy to treat behavioral and mental health disorders.
- Support groups, which consist of members with the same issues, provide empowerment and support.
Data reported by the CDC indicates that beginning in May 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Emergency Department visits for suspected suicide attempts among adolescents, ages 12 – 17, especially girls, began increasing.
Parents should contact their child’s district school board or school counselor to inquire about mental health support. Parents should conduct a regular check-in with their children to monitor their mood, relationships, and academic performance.
If you are reading this and have experienced suicidal ideations, please contact the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or go to your nearest Emergency Department.
Receiving help begins with AWARENESS. Suffering in silence negatively impacts you and those that love you. Act now if you need mental health support. Feel free to contact Strive Counseling if you need guidance on your healing journey. We are here for you because You Matter!
Crystal Mullen-Johnson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Play Therapist in Birmingham, AL with more than 16 years of experience in providing counseling. Strive Counseling Services is a private practice located in downtown Birmingham that offers therapeutic mental health services to children (play therapy), adolescents, and adults. Strive offers evidence-based therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Contact us at (205) 721-9893 to inquire about Telehealth Services or visit our website, www.strivebhm.com.