How 2020 and 2021 may be taking a toll on Oklahomans’ mental health

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – While Americans continue to struggle from 2020 and its aftermath, mental health experts discuss the burnout from last year and why making your mental health a top priority this year is more important than ever.

“It has damaging affects on the psyche and we have seen that with the beginning of 2020 taking place with covid and just trying to prepare for an unknown situation,” said therapist Sanaria Okongor.

Okongor said it’s a daily unknown for many Oklahomans, causing anxiety, stress, and depression.

“Will I be able to hold a job, what about my children, things like that,” said Onkongor.

Many Americans are losing balance.

After 2020’s big blows, there’s a new kind of loss and new way of living.

“We had to create a whole norm. That in itself was devastating, because we saw the decline of not just jobs, but we saw schooling take effect and we were kind of thrust into a situation where we didn’t really know what to do,” said Onkongor.

From the pandemic to racial injustice, Hubbard says the toll on mental health is often difficult to pinpoint.

“Things that can manifest because of mental health are maybe heart racing, stomach upset. Things that maybe persists beyond the usual sinus headache. Those are things to pay attention to that can really be indicating a mental health challenge,” said Hubbard.

And with a chaotic start to the new year, therapist Sanaria Okongor is urging Oklahomans to seek help.

“Mental health doesn’t have to go into mental illness, but if you’re able to catch it quick enough, you could prevent a decline in mental health,” said Onkongor.

Whether you’re hesitant to seek help or have fallen on tough times, Hubbard and Okongor says there is a resource out there tailored to your needs and that reaching out is the first step.

“There are several mental health agencies in the city. One of those being Red Rock Behavioral Health in North Care. They accept people with no health insurance as well as those who are low income. Also, Oklahoma Clinicians of Color; we are a resource base which actually specializes in helping black and brown individuals who are looking for clinicians of color just like themselves,” said Okongor.

“So, if anybody finds that they’re struggling and needs help and figuring out where to start or needs access to services, they could always call the mental health access center at (405) 943-3700,” said Hubbard.

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