(WIVB) — A local organization is trying to change how we talk about mental health.

The Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition hosted a Facebook live Friday to talk about how things have changed because of the pandemic. The organization’s chair says they’ve seen a rise in mental health challenges because of COVID-19.

But speakers at the event say awareness of mental health struggles is getting better.

Executive Director of Independent Living of Niagara County Sarah Lanzo said, “Through the pandemic, many people find themselves alone for great periods of time and some people find themselves around for families constantly so I think that level of empathy increased because some family members were able to see completely what that looks like because they were with their partners like nonstop.”

Organizers of the panel stressed it’s up to all of us to end the stigma surrounding mental health.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, help is available. Erie County’s Crisis Hotline is available 24 hours a day: 716-834-3131. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-8255. For more information, visit CrisisServices.org.

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