TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Since the start of the pandemic, professionals in the mental health field are seeing an increase in people who need help.
“We have noticed many changes in the mental health field. One, is many people reaching out for extra help that never have before. People going in for the first time for a diagnosis or (for) help because of anxiety or depression,” said Michael Sandvig, president Emeritus of NAMI Idaho.
A study by the Center for Disease Control reports from August of 2020 to February of 2021, adults with symptoms of an anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from around 36% to over 40%.
“I’ve found that it’s really helpful in my support groups and when talking about mental stress in general, to be able and to say, ‘On a scale of one to ten, where do you feel like you’re at with your sensations? Is it positive or negative? Unpleasant to pleasant?’ Those kinds of things. Creating that common language has been really helpful,” said Amber Leyba-Castle, Young and Well coordinator for NAMI Idaho.
If you think a loved one may be suffering with their mental health, talk to them.
“I’m a person that believes that there is never any harm and asking in a compassionate way. So if something tells you that someone might need help, just have that open conversation and just let them know that you care about them, and then that can open up the conversation of different resources that you can access together,” said Leyba-Castle.
Leaders in the Twin Falls community are working to meet the increase in need of mental health counseling among college students.
“The pandemic definitely has influenced an increase in the usage of the services through our counseling office. Students are struggling,” said Jason Ostrowski, dean of students at the College of Southern Idaho.
The college hopes to keep up with counseling demands and are leveraging community partnerships to expand access to services and resources for students.
“Sometimes we also have an opportunity to partner with local educational programs like an NNU, who have individuals who are going through getting their degree in counseling, and we offer an opportunity for them to intern with us, which increases the amount of individuals who are able to be here and help to support students,” said Ostrowski.
Avoiding drugs and alcohol and keeping up with what you enjoy helps, according to Sandvig.
“It’s really important for a person to try to live well, to exercise; getting out really helps and it can be very very difficult but doing the best you can, staying on your routines… things you enjoy doing, you need to continue doing that,” said Sandvig
NAMI Idaho offers free in-person and virtual support groups across the state. For resources, go to namiidaho.org