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More people seeking mental healthcare during pandemic

Posted at 3:06 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 00:02:25-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Every day since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been updating you with the latest numbers in COVID-19.

CHI Health has been tracking another set of numbers in this same period, highlighting a growing crisis.

10,000 people per month are reaching out to the clinic for mental health support since this pandemic hit in march, according to CHI Health. Mental health practitioner Chelsea Hunter says most are struggling with anxiety and the unknowns of this year.

“We have so many parents and children that are in different routines, remote learning and it’s a lot of just the adjustment to what are we supposed to be doing? What is right? What’s normal, so to speak, for such and abnormal situation,” Hunter said.

The clinic has been tracking the mental health habits in the metro-area since March.

CHI Health says new patient referrals are up 40%, and the Behavioral Services referral line has seen an increase of 21%.

Physician Assistant Janeen Gass says CHI Health has been able to handle this influx.

“We want to not only address your physical well-being, but your mental (health) is a very important part of your whole entire person,” Gass said.

There are a variety of different treatments to cope with mental health.

CHI Health believes in collaboration between a primary doctor and a behavioral health specialist. Some of these treatments might be incorporating more exercise or changing your diet, whereas in other cases it may mean taking medication to find relief.

“Even with therapy, you might need medication,” Gass said.

If you’re struggling, the experts say to reach out to your primary care doctor and they should be able to help navigate you through a plan.

“What we’re going through right now is normal to have some form of anxiety and what not, but when it comes to the point where it’s bothersome or problematic is where we’re here to help.”

Hunter says CHI Health relies on tele-medicine a lot more during this pandemic, and that it’s become effective in serving the increase in patients.

If you are struggling and need help, call CHI's Behavioral Care information line at (402) 717-4673.