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The Groove - Be a shining light during dark times
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As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the country and state, another pandemic comes along with it.

Mental health illnesses are on the rise as individuals remain stuck at home, filled with stress regarding finances to support themselves and their families, fear for their own health, as well as those they love, and living with uncertainty.

According to Time Magazine, at the end of April more than 1-in-4 American adults met the criteria psychologists use to diagnose serious mental disease and illness, which is a roughly 700% increase from data collected in 2018.

Mental health is a struggle during everyday life, but add the fear, anxiety and loneliness the coronavirus has brought with it, and the strain on mentality worsens each day.

The number of those who’ve previously suffered from some form of mental health disorder have a higher likelihood for their illnesses to become more problematic, along with creating an increase of mental illnesses and struggles in those who hadn’t been affected before COVID-19 struck.

With an increase in mental illness comes an increase in an attempt to self-medicate the negative feelings away.

On top of the desire to escape from the current fear of the “new norm” and find some sort of peace, the stay-at-home orders and self-distancing can create even more desperation. This is the perfect storm to create anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies and risks of overdose.

The Tennessean reports during the first two weeks of March, the nationwide mental health Crisis Text Line, which serves Tennessee, had 49 times the growth in March over the first two months of the year.

All humans are naturally programmed to seek connections with others. Those with mental illness need these even more. Without these necessary interactions, it’s easy to sink into a hole of being unable to sleep or sleeping too much, loss of appetite or an increase in so, or becoming uninterested in self-hygiene.

Although self-distancing is of upmost importance, isolation is the enemy of those who struggle with mental illness or addiction. 

While continuing to keep yourself and others safe, think of those you know who may be suffering from unemployment, financial worries, domestic struggles, previous mental health disorders or addiction.

As we remain separated, we can come together by reaching out to those in need and simply checking in.

A caring word means more than most realize. Even if not physically, we can still be there for others by simply being a light for those in need during this dark time.

If you need help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line at 855-274-7471 or by texting “TN” to 741741.

Standard reporter Atlanta Northcutt can be reached at 473-2191.