MANISTEE COUNTY — An uptick in reported mental health concerns across the country has been called a “second pandemic” by some health officials, and like the virus itself, this wave of stress, depression and trauma continues to take a toll.
About 33% of U.S. adults reported symptoms of depression as of April 2021, according to a study published by Lancet Regional Health in October. This compares to about 19% from the most recent pre-pandemic study.
Megan McCarthy, executive director for the Lakeshore Children’s Advocacy Center says her organization is finding ways to meet the therapy needs for children in Manistee.
Those needs, she said at the annual meeting of the Manistee County Human Resources Collaborative Body in January, were “through the roof.”
“We had 108 forensic interviews of child victims in 2021 at the child advocacy center, and then many more services provided wraparound to the entire family, because we offer therapy to not just the child but to any non-offending family members,” McCarthy said at the meeting.
The increased need for mental health services locally prompted McCarthy to hire a second therapist in 2021.
The U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy M.D. called attention to the mental health challenges facing children and young adults in an advisory issued in December.
“It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place,” Murthy stated in the advisory. “Ensuring healthy children and families will take an all-of-society effort, including policy, institutional and individual changes in how we view and prioritize mental health.”
Cassandra Kamaloski is another Manistee-area resident who is concerned about mental health issues locally.
Kamaloski is the executive director of the Manistee Friendship Society, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides support and activities for adults living with various degrees of mental illness.
A major goal for the Friendship Society is ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.
“Stigma is associated with mental health, so you promote understanding,” Kamaloski said. “Individuals with mental health problems often do not seek help, so you can help our people get the help they need by trying to break that stigma.”
Since May, the Friendship Society has offered what Kamaloski calls “emotional CPR” and “mental health first aid training,” to help people recognize signs of depression or anxiety.
“Professional help is not always on hand,” Kamaloski said at the Human Resources Collaborative Body meeting. “So (we) encourage community members to support one another.”</…….