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Indiana leaders stress mental health awareness amid pandemic

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Anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions have become more prevalent among Hoosiers since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the state's top health officials said in calling for renewed attention on mental health resources.

Posted: Jan 4, 2021 9:31 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions have become more prevalent among Hoosiers since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the state's top health officials said in calling for renewed attention on mental health resources.

Many of those reporting mental health woes are affected by COVID-19 itself, Jennifer Sullivan, secretary of the state’s Family and Social Services Administration, said during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly briefing Wednesday on the state’s coronavirus response.

That includes dealing with loss and fear, disruption to daily life with recurrent needs for quarantine and isolation, changes to school and work schedules, unexpected illness of friends and family, and disruption to normal social supports.

Cold weather and the holiday season, too, have likely added difficulties for people with existing mental illnesses and those experiencing acute stress, she added.

“The effects of COVID-19 are uncovering or exacerbating existing mental illnesses, minor or severe, that people didn’t know they had,” Sullivan said. “These need to be taken seriously and professional help sought.”

As a way to help, Sullivan encouraged Hoosiers to use the state-run BeWellIndiana.org to take a mental health self-assessment. Since April, more than 25,000 Hoosiers — many of them under 25 years old — have completed those assessments.

For more than three-quarters of those taking the surveys, there was confirmation of a mental health diagnosis, Sullivan said. Of those, 57% had not been previously diagnosed with a mental health condition and were not receiving any treatment at the time of the assessment.

More than half of all self-screenings additionally confirmed a moderate to severe presence of depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety — the three top mental health issues related to suicide, Sullivan said. Asked to identify what was contributing to their mental health problems, the top three responses were loneliness or isolation, past trauma, and relationship problems.

“What this says to me is that we have young people with new and serious mental health conditions,” Sullivan said. “We have a responsibility and an opportunity to make sure that we support these individuals so that their mental health needs are met now and do not become chronic.”

In addition to state resources online, those seeking resources can also call 211 or 866-211-9966 to speak to a trained crisis counselor 24 hours a day for free, or text HOME to 741-741 to get help.

The call line has already received more than 6,000 calls this year, Sullivan noted, with the majority of callers between ages 40 and 64. Crisis counselors have so far referred 29% of those callers to mental health treatment and connected more than 1,000 people to resources for food, clothing, housing support or utility assistance.

“Please realize that it’s OK to reach out for help. And to help others around you to get through this, too, encourage them to seek help through these resources," Sullivan said. “Know that it’s OK not to be OK.”

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 611039

Reported Deaths: 9716
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion844351336
Lake45508685
Allen32891552
Hamilton29546315
St. Joseph27449381
Elkhart24440345
Vanderburgh19513250
Tippecanoe18043140
Johnson15140295
Porter14865169
Hendricks14440248
Madison11009222
Vigo10769181
Clark10731144
Monroe9424113
Delaware9152134
LaPorte9103164
Howard8268144
Kosciusko808983
Warrick676599
Hancock6741104
Bartholomew6523100
Floyd6469110
Wayne6157162
Grant6011116
Dubois556980
Boone554668
Morgan545795
Henry509764
Marshall505384
Cass485264
Dearborn483245
Noble474059
Jackson426747
Shelby419581
Lawrence392980
Clinton374243
Gibson372559
Harrison350945
DeKalb348264
Montgomery346554
Knox335839
Miami323044
Steuben314545
Whitley309726
Wabash304551
Adams302136
Ripley300046
Putnam297850
Huntington293159
Jasper290534
White274143
Daviess271274
Jefferson264738
Decatur248983
Fayette247848
Greene241162
Posey240328
Wells236451
LaGrange229662
Scott225739
Clay223532
Randolph214948
Jennings199336
Sullivan192933
Spencer192422
Washington187523
Fountain184627
Starke175643
Jay168223
Owen166837
Fulton164230
Orange160835
Carroll159115
Rush155818
Perry155229
Vermillion149334
Franklin149033
Tipton133033
Parke13088
Pike118226
Blackford111422
Pulaski97337
Newton91721
Brown88235
Benton86910
Crawford8069
Martin74413
Warren6857
Switzerland6665
Union6287
Ohio4957
Unassigned0376

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