SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Local health officials are explaining what sort of psychological impact the COVID-19 pandemic may be having on everyday Utahns.
Health experts say pandemic is impacting mental wellness
Experts say the physical toll of coronavirus is easier to spot, although the mental health concerns are just as serious.
“Mental health providers are seeing increased rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress symptoms among patients,” explained Doctor Kristin Francis with the Huntsman Mental Health Institute.
These mental health concerns aren’t just exclusive to coronavirus patients, rather the impact of seeing a family member or friend become ill, or just having to quarantine for an extended amount of time, is also creating problems.
“Some of these are patients who really have never sought any treatment before for any underlying mental health symptoms,” she explained.
Additionally, it seems to be Utah’s younger population that is being impacted at a higher rate. Mental health providers in Utah report that patients from this group are coming in much more often compared to adults.
“They’re reporting twice as high of rates of substance abuse disorders and recent suicidal thoughts,” said Dr. Francis. “Emergency room visits for mental health concerns for young people has increased almost 50%.”
Looking at early development
Counselor Chuck Sharp told KSL Newsradio earlier this year that he has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of people reaching out for help in Northern Utah.
“Touch and our social interactions are important with young people,” he explained. “In fact, most of their personality development happens at a very, very young age. So, this lack of social contact and distancing does have a dramatic impact on children. That’s why I think it’s so important that parents and providers become aware of that and that schools become aware of that.”
Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
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