Sugar Land - Missouri City Edition | October 2020

on the rise Mental Health America is tracking the eects of COVID-19 on people’s mental health. Screenings increased throughout the year with an uptick in May. i n Ha r r i s a n d Fo r t B e n d c o u n t i e s MENTAL HE ALTH S CREEN I NG S

“MHA’S MENTAL HEALTH SCREENING PROVIDES THE MOST DIRECT, REAL TIME MEASURE OF THE DEEP IMPACT THE PANDEMIC IS HAVING ON MENTAL HEALTH IN THE GREATER HOUSTON REGION. WHAT THIS INFORMATION DEMONSTRATES TO US IS THAT THE IMPACT IS REAL AND APPEARS TO BE SPREADING AND ACCELERATING.” RENAE VANIA TOMCZAK, MHA OF GREATER HOUSTON PRESIDENT AND CEO

Mental health screenings have been increasing in Fort Bend and Harris counties with a sharp uptick seen in May. Examining state and county data Mental health screenings

SOURCE: MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA GREATER HOUSTONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Survey respondents were asked to identify three of their top factors: Loneliness or social isolation Past trauma Relationship problems Coronavirus Financial problems Top ve leading contributors to mental health problems in August: 1,159 883 803 714 624

Out of the people screened in August:

11,192

83% 56% 59%

Harris and Fort Bend counties Texas

showed likely alcohol/ substance use disorder were likely experiencing moderate to severe anxiety. were likely experiencing moderately severe to severe depression.

8,052 8,062 8,864

2,829

2,108

1,971

1,929

1,530 1,419

1,297 1,463

412

160 216 285

JAN.

FEB.

MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUG.

SOURCE: MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA OF GREATER HOUSTONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Localmental healthproviders seeanxiety, depression levels rise BY CLAIRE SHOOP

past several months. Ponce, who specializes in trauma, individual and relational therapy, said prior to the coronavirus she would see about eight patients a week at her part- time practice. Recently, she said she has been working with up to 20 clients a week and has had to start a waitlist to accommodate the demand. The stress and uncertainty of the pandemic are resurfacing past trauma, Ponce said. “The trend seems to be the feeling of being out of control triggers the trauma because most traumas are created when you’re out of control,” Ponce said. “So that feeling brings it up; people have actually had ashbacks that they hadn’t had in years.” Mental HealthAmerica is tracking the real-time eects of COVID-19 on peo- ple’s mental health, said Renae Vania

disorders aected approximately 30% of people, said Biren Patel, the manag- ing physician of behavioral health at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, which has loca- tions throughout Houston. Now, between 40%-50% of U.S. adults are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, he said. “Depression and anxiety can be the biggest problems that can be exacer- bated,” saidColleenPaxton, thedirector of clinical services at West Oaks Hospi- tal, which provides psychiatric care in the Houston area. “Anytime there is a change in schedule, change in routine, especially in times of uncertainty, more mental health issues can arise.” Mental healthconcerns Nicole Ponce, a licensed professional counselor in Sugar Land, said her prac- tice has been increasingly busy over the

Tomczak, the president and CEO for MHA of Greater Houston. The organi- zation screened 2,108 residents in Fort Bend and Harris counties in August, a 1,200% increase from 160 in January. Of the people screened, loneliness and social isolation, past trauma, rela- tionship problems and the coronavirus were the main factors contributing to mental health concerns in August. MHA data shows among participants in Fort Bend and Harris counties in August, 59% were likely experiencing moderate to severe anxiety, and 56% were likely experiencing moderate to severe depression. Almeida saidpeoplewhodonot have access to social services and stability including healthy food, nancial sup- port, steady income, housing security, access to health care and social support are at risk of more severemental health

As the coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn that resulted fromit stretchpast the six-monthmark, mental health professionals in the Sugar Land and Missouri City area have seen an increase in anxiety, depression and substance use. “Those anxieties and worries and negative feelings have denitely increased,” said Connie Almeida, the director of Fort Bend County Behav- ioral Health Services. “Anxiety and worry and stress arenormal parts of life. They’re normal reactions to traumatic events, which I see this pandemic as a traumatic event. But when it persists for a long time and there’s no relief, that gets to be really concerning for people.” Before the coronavirus outbreak, depression aected about 20%-25% of the U.S. population, while anxiety

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