Officials: More Oklahomans reaching out for mental health help

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services say calls to the 211 social services line have increased during the pandemic.

Organizers say the increase in calls may be a good thing since Oklahomans are reaching out for help.

“We want people to ask for help,” ODMHSAS Interim Commissioner Carrie Slatton-Hodges said. “The earlier someone recognizes a need for help with growing anxiety or depression, the less likely they are to require advanced treatment later when an unaddressed issue may reach a crisis level.  For those who were already struggling with their mental health, the current circumstances can exacerbate problems.” 

Nationally, call volume at NAMI’s HelpLine is up 65 percent compared with last year, averaging more than 200 calls a day. Most calls are related to issues with anxiety.  

“There has definitely been an uptick in calls to crisis hotlines, and the majority of those calls have been related to anxiety, fear and uncertainty concerning the pandemic and everyday stressors – of which there are many at the moment,” she said.

A recent Kaiser Foundation poll found that more than 30 percent of adults nationally say they’ve experienced symptoms consistent with anxiety or depression. The poll ranked Oklahoma in the top, with 39 percent of adults reporting anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms. 

“Anyone who needs mental health assistance, whether for a minor case of anxiety or for a crisis situation, can access a variety of services through the department,” she said. “We want people to stay connected. We can help Oklahomans during this difficult time and show them how to manage anxiety and depression. We can also offer parents, teachers, young people and others education in how to prevent and respond to suicide risk.” 

You can find nearby treatment services by visiting www.odmhsas.org or by calling 211 and asking about behavioral health services. For simple, everyday activities that can help improve your mental health, check-out www.selfcareis.healthcare for short animated videos that can be easily shared via social media.

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