UW Health: Mental health services must grow following pandemic

Mental Health Generic AP News source
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Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 8:18 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Mental health declined during the pandemic in 2020 at “considerably” higher rates than in 2019, according to a new study Friday.

The study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that adverse mental health conditions, substance use and suicidal thoughts were all considerably higher in 2020 as compared to 2019.

The study stated that a quarter of respondents reported symptoms of an anxiety disorder, compared to just over 8% in 2019.

Dr. Beth Lonergan, director of Behavioral Health Services at UW Health, explained that experts attribute the increase to stressors like fears of job loss, economic stress and concerns of getting sick.

“Impacts on mental health treatment like access challenges, workforce shortage, concerns regarding untreated behavioral health issues and lack of focus on prevention – including building resilience in people – have been years in the making,” Lonergan said. “Now that more people are seeking care, the health care system must respond.”

Dr. Lonergan noted experts will need to focus on health care access to allow for early intervention.

“For patients in rural areas where transportation is a barrier, telehealth and virtual visits will be a valuable tool,” Lonergan said.

A different report also noted the demand for mental health services increased during the pandemic.

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