People are living in unprecedented times amid COVID-19. A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds 40% of adults struggle with mental health and substance use during this pandemic.
Over a dozen times a day, Benjamin Champion, a Retreat Behavioral Health outpatient coordinator, receives calls from people who have either relapsed or they’re looking for other recovery programming and support.
”Sometimes the calls are an hour long,” Champion said.
At one point, Champion was on the other line himself. In May 2016, he entered Retreat Behavioral Health for alcohol abuse.
”In the Hispanic culture it’s not cool to be the one who can’t drink because that’s what you do on a Friday night,” Champion said.
Champion said cultural norms almost prevented him from seeking help. Today, half his calls are for alcohol abuse and he’s not the only one concerned the isolation and uncertainly surrounding the pandemic has only compounded the problem.
”There’s definitely an increase in overdoses and relapses since COVID-19 started,” said Caroline Franklin, primary therapist at Retreat Behavioral Health.
Franklin is also concerned with the people choosing to seek help.
”I think it’s a cultural thing,” Franklin said.
The National Alliance on Mental Health reports almost 50% of White adults seek help verses only 25% of Asian adults, 31% of Black adults, 32% of mixed/multicultural adults, and 33% of Latinx adults.
A report from the CDC also found 54% of essential workers and 66% of unpaid caregivers had at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom.
Joi Honer, Retreat Behavioral Health senior director of alumni and community engagement, has grown tired of the headlines and the numbers. She’s behind Retreat’s first seminar of its kind to present solution focused gifts this winter.
”Empowerment is a strong message in wellness,” Honer said. ”You might be in a situation that you can’t control but you can control your attitude. The people that I feel for the most is the person who doesn’t know that help is out there.”
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