HEALTH

Utah doctors report omicron variant impacting mental health

Feb 3, 2022, 3:31 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 12:45 pm
Experts from Huntsman Mental Health Institute say omicron is increasing mental health cases....
The Huntsman Mental Health Institute in Research Park in Salt Lake City is pictured on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019.

SALT LAKE CITY — Two doctors at the University of Utah say the omicron variant is really affecting people’s mental health.

Issues coming up for the first time

Huntsman Mental Health Institute‘s Dr. Kristin Francis says some people have been experiencing anxiety and depression for the first time. And it’s opened up some questions about whether these health issues will exist past the pandemic.

“What we know about mental health is if you don’t address it — if you don’t get help and support early on, then you are likely to have experiences of depression, anxiety, or mental health over time,” said Francis.

Doctors at Intermountain Healthcare also noted seeing a rise toward the end of 2021. 

Utah’s free mental health resources 

Utah has a lot of free resources to help those struggling with depression, anxiety, or the like.

Dr. Mark Hyman Rapaport, CEO of HMHI saw a 32%  increase in calls to the Utah Crisis Line last year.

The SafeUT app is free for all Utahns and connects youths to licensed counselors. The app is also used for students to give anonymous tips when they feel their lives, or the lives of their friends and teachers, are in danger.

The Utah Crisis Line is also available for use, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or 801-587-3000.

Some tips that could help

But Dr. Teague Cowley, also with the Huntsman Institute, recommends not focusing too much on the future.

“Often the best thing we can do is make sure that we focus on today, and we make today as best as today can be,” said Cowley. 

Francis says if people notice their anxiety or depression is impacting their day-to-day life, they should reach out to a professional or their primary care doctor. 

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Utah doctors report omicron variant impacting mental health