(WIVB)–Leaders in Western New York stressed an added importance this year during Mental Health Awareness month, which is May.
Jessica Pirro, CEO of Crisis Services, said the pandemic is bringing mental health to the forefront more than ever before. Crisis Services has seen about a 20% increase in calls in the last few months with people experiencing feelings like anxiety, stress and fear during uncertain times.
Leaders also reported a spike in deadly overdoses in Erie County.
Pirro says help is available through the Crisis Services hotlines, which are available 24/7.
“How you feel today might not be how you feel tomorrow. I think with all of that people are starting to see this is a normal response to uncertainty. It’s also a normal response to trauma. When we look at what’s happening to our society as a whole, it is a traumatic event. The loss, the uncertainty, job loss, family impact. That’s all levels of trauma people are going through,” Pirro said.
Help is also available for kids. Kristy D’Angelo, vice president of behavioral health services for Gateway Longview, said the organization has also seen an increase in demand.
The agency provides services for about 5,000 children and families every year, especially right now during a particularly tough time for kids.
“Kids are really grieving right now. They have the loss of social interactions, the loss of school, momentous occasions like graduation and sports events. [They’ve also lost]that day to day routine. I think people don’t realize how important it is to have a routine and know what’s happening throughout your day,” D’Angelo said.
D’Angelo said some signs to look for in kids include agitation, aggressiveness and change in appetite.