Local and state experts speak on World Mental Health Day

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PHOTO: World Federation for Mental Health

TENNESSEE (WJHL) — World Mental Health Day is acknowledged every year on October 10, but this year it comes at a unique time for our country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daily lives have changed drastically due to coronavirus as Americans spend more time at home and have less interactions with other people.

Tennessee local and state mental health experts say the need for mental health support will substantially increase in the coming months and years due to COVID-19.

“It’s important to recognize — especially when you’re going through a crisis as we are as a nation —that we’re all going to have emotional issues that are connected to that,” said Tim Perry, who is the Senior Vice President for Children’s Services with Frontier Health.

According to the World Health Organization, “the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is increased investment in mental health.”

Perry went on to speak of a mental health survey conducted during the summer months when many restaurants and places of socializing remained closed.

“A CDC survey was taken back in June or July of this year,” said Perry, “It said that over 45% of people that were surveyed recognized that since the beginning of the pandemic, they had at least one mental health issue that they were trying to deal with.”

Experts say relationships are key to maintaining positive mental health.

“Peer-to-peer contact and communication is very important,” said Caty Davis, who works for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “So, not shaming your friends if they’re feeling down.”

Davis has dealt with her own mental health concerns in the past and now is the Director of School Engagement for the state.

“I myself went through depressive episodes after I lost my father and brother both to suicide and I had to learn to, you know, know that mental health issues run in my family,” explained Davis.

She is one of many who wants to normalize conversations surrounding mental health.

“We are resilient as human beings, and we go through so much,” Davis said, “So by de-stigmatizing that — talking about it — that’s what’s going to make a difference.”

If you are dealing with mental health concerns you can text “home” from anywhere in the U.S. or “TN” for Tennessee residents to the National Crisis Line at 741-741.

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