TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Doctors from the University of Arizona College of Medicine Psychiatry Department said they are seeing an increasing number of patients battling mental health issues.
"Initially there might have been a bit of honeymoon period," Dr. Jordan Karp, University of Arizona Department of Psychiatry Professor and Chair.
That period is long over. It has been almost one year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Karp said recent events are taking a toll on many.
"Things are changing. The pandemic has gotten worse, there is increased attention to racial injustice and challenges with the federal government. It has caused increased stress. People are having a difficult time," said Karp.
Cases of depression, anxiety, substance use and suicide are being reported in Southern Arizona. Karp said, in 2020, the Pima County Health Department reported twice the number of suicides in people ages 11 to 19 and those in their 50s, compared to 2019.
"I think we are at the tip of the iceberg. Things may get more problematic in terms of rates of mental illness as we come into 2021," said Karp.
Karp said the community should be vigilant and prioritize, not only treatment, but prevention. "Psychiatric clinics are seeing an increase in activity and we don't want people to fall through the cracks," said Karp. It is important to check-in on friends and family. When it comes to a loved one who may be battling mental illness, medical experts recommend a few simple steps: listen, support and encourage. "Depression kills. Treatment works. Get help," said Karp.
If you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide, counselors are available to talk 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255.