Coronavirus impacts mental health - FOX34 Lubbock

Coronavirus impacts mental health

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LUBBOCK, Texas -
The Department of Health Services recently reported a surge in calls to its mental health care support lines. Many attribute it to the fear and isolation people are experiencing due to the pandemic. 
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 1 in 5 American adults are dealing with a mental health issue.
United Healthcare's Dr. Kenneth Adams explained how to navigate the new stress brought on by the coronavirus. 
"Mental health is really important to talk about," Adams said. "So many people feel like their stress and anxiety and worries is theirs alone, and think they are the only ones suffering from those concerns."
COVID-19 related anxiety is compounded by reduced capacity for treatment. Adams said luckily, the Cares Act expanded Telehealth which has been a vital resource for many. 
"It's essentially like having a doctors visit via your phone in your living room or office," Adams explained. "It simplifies the whole process of actually going to see a doctor and explaining the symptoms, whether that be mental health or the common cold or flu."
Adams said the easiest way to reduce stress and anxiety on your own, is exercise.
"Doing aerobic exercise and elevating your heart rate 3 to 5 times per week is as effective as a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)," Adams said. "We know them more frequently as medications like Zoloft or Paxil or Prozac."
Adams also recommends reading a book, watching comedy before bed, learning something new and asking for help. 
"United Healthcare has really rolled out their programs with Optum Behavioral Health," Adams said. "They are trying to reach as many people as possible during this stressful time."
On Wednesday, Governor Abbott announced the state had received nearly six million dollars in federal funds to provide counseling services. 
May is "Mental Health Awareness Month," but Adams said it's a topic that must be discussed year round. The numbers for the United Healthcare line and the state's emergency outreach teams is in the FOX34 News app. 
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