By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Beth Akins with Horizons Mental Health Center notes that there have been both good and bad consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Do I think the pandemic has caused some issues with mental health?" Akins asked rhetorically. "My answer to that is going to be yes. We have seen an increase in calls to our crisis lines. We all have sort of coping strategies that we have adopted that help us deal with just that kind of day to day stress or day to day anxiety. One of the things that the pandemic did was take away those normal coping strategies."
Those might include going out to dinner with friends or going to the gym or other activities that were made either more difficult or impossible by the pandemic. On the other hand, figuring out how to give care through the phone and internet has resulted in some people being able to keep therapy appointments that would have otherwise had to be cancelled.
"We'd often times have people call and cancel because they didn't have transportation or their childcare fell through," Akins said. "Now, when they call, instead of cancelling, we can say to them, hey let's just switch this appointment to televideo."
In the beginning of the pandemic, there was so much uncertainty and so much change in routine that it actually helped some people who may have had additional stress from workplace issues that were working from home, for example, but now that the new routines are set up, people are beginning to feel overwhelmed by the new stressors, not to mention the prospect of going back to a normal that they were struggling with before.
"Lots of people have experienced a tremendous amount of loss," Akins said. "The grief is more intense now, just because I know multiple people who died in this last year, that type of a thing."
The Horizons 24-hour crisis line received nearly 500 calls in 2020, up from the mid 300s in 2019.