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Mental health is a major problem since the COVID pandemic: What are local health systems doing about it?

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, mental health has become a prevalent issue worldwide. The World Health Organization reports that anxiety and depression have risen by 25% globally since the outbreak of the pandemic. In the United States, the issue has come to the forefront again this year, with Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman publicly announcing he is seeking treatment for clinical depression.

In response to the growing mental health crisis, Rochester Regional Health is urging residents to take advantage of their center dedicated to helping those suffering from mental health problems.

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Mandy Teeter, the vice president of Rochester Regional’s Behavioral Health Department, told 13WHAM-TV the center is a mental health “urgent care” for people dealing with mental health and addiction issues. “If you’re really struggling and you don’t know how to connect to care, or maybe you’re experiencing a crisis, you can walk in and talk to a therapist right away,” she said.

The center, located in the St. Mary’s Medical Campus building, has been operational since 2018, and the pandemic has prompted it to expand its services. Rochester Regional Health has also collaborated with schools to provide mental health support services for students.

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Despite the high demand for mental health care, New York State is experiencing a severe shortage of mental health care workers. The Mental Health Association of New York State reports that some healthcare programs have vacancy rates between 30% to 40%.

Teeter admits that the fight against mental health issues will be an uphill battle, in part due to the stigma associated with mental health historically. However, she notes that more people are reaching out for services than ever before.

As the pandemic continues to affect people’s mental health, centers like Rochester Regional Health’s Behavioral Health Center are vital resources for those in need of support.