Long before the COVID-19 outbreak upended everyday life, many Americans already were struggling with substance abuse and mental health challenges. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), mental illness affected 47 million American adults, and 17 million reported having impairments from major depressive episodes in 2017-2018, in addition to three million youth who had major depressive episodes in the past year. In addition, 46,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2018, which included nearly 80 percent of Illinois’ 2,772 overdose deaths that year. On top of that, about 1,000 Illinoisans lose their lives to suicide each year.
Now, with millions of Americans out of work as they shelter at home, and extra fears weighing on essential workers providing food and healthcare, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation found that 45 percent of people say COVID-19-related stress is affecting their mental health. Many are turning to unhealthy coping tools. In the third week of March, alcohol sales increased 55 percent over the same time in 2019 as people began to shelter in place. March also set a record for cannabis sales in Oregon, which legalized recreational use in 2015.
In response to stress and anxiety, thousands of Americans reached out for help, as March calls to SAMHSA’s disaster distress hotline increased nearly 900 percent from last March. If you or a loved one are struggling, don’t be afraid to seek treatment, especially during social isolation. Stress, anxiety, grief, and worry are natural feelings, and these emotions may be stronger without your usual social and relational supports. If you take care of your emotional health, you will be able to think clearly and respond to urgent needs to protect yourself and your family. Self-care now also will help your long-term healing when the stress has passed.
To help you through these times, Rosecrance is offering a collection of free health resources to the community. These offerings include:
• A virtual library of seminars on timely topics, including suicide risk and anxiety in adolescents.
• Virtual assessments through the Access team, which can be reached at 888-928-5278.
• Family support from an interventionist who can help individuals and families work toward detaching from the illness with compassion.
• The Rosecrance Parent Café, which is a virtual support group for parents who have a teen or young adult struggling with addiction.
• The evidence-based Rosecrance Prevention and Early Intervention Program, which provides education, support, and direction to teens and families who may be at higher risk of serious involvement with alcohol and other drugs.