PEOPLE Rebecca Farrell
2022 HEALTH CARE EDITION
BY JISHNU NAIR
IF WE DO TRY TO LOOK AT SILVER LININGS, OUR EXPERIENCES OF THE PANDEMIC HAVE OPENED THE DOOR MORE IN TERMS OF BEING ABLE TO TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, ABOUT NORMALIZING CONVERSATIONS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH. ”
Program and outreach director, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Central Texas
Rebecca Farrell serves as the program and outreach director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Central Texas aliate. The national nonprot, which has over 600 state organizations and aliates across the U.S., works to educate and provide resources on mental health. Answers have been edited for length and clarity. WHAT IS THE STATE OF MENTAL HEALTH CARE TWO YEARS INTO THE PANDEMIC? … So when we look at our health care providers, … what we have witnessed during the pandemic is higher levels of empathy fatigue, … And so we have noticed that people are mass-exiting their places of
REBECCA FARRELL, PROGRAM AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS, CENTRAL TEXAS
WHAT POPULATIONS HAVE BEEN HIT THE HARDEST AS IT RELATES TO MENTAL HEALTH? Suicide rates are higher amongst males. ... Also, overall, the suicide rates are higher amongst white males who are older as well. … Males will have died by suicide at a higher rate than females; however, females are more likely to … attempt suicide. And we are seeing a rise in suicide attempts by African American females and also from our children who identify as LGBTQ.
HOW HAS THE PERCEPTION OF MENTAL HEALTH CHANGED? If we do try to look at silver linings, our experiences of the pandemic [have] opened the door more in terms of being able to talk about mental health, about normalizing conversations about mental health. … And then also, we’re beginning to talk about how mental health is really connected to our physical health. So being able to say mental health is health. Read the full interview on www.communityimpact.com.
So the pandemic really has brought to light two primary issues. The rst one is how extensive the gaps in our health care systems are, and then the second—which people might not have been aware of—is how we lack the support and resources for addressing our youth and adolescents’ mental health. … Since 2017, suicide has become the eighth leading cause of death for our children ages 5-11, and it is the second leading cause of death for our youth ages 10-24 since 2018.
employment, because they’re expe- riencing so much emotional distress, anxiety and depression. … We see long waitlists, because things have moved to telehealth. … What we also noticed when the pandemic hit was that there was a dramatic change in mental health assistance, and then also we saw an increase in mental health, emergency consultations and in-home care as well.
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