As mental health issues spike, local organizations take charge to help those struggling

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The pandemic is taking a toll on Americans in many ways, including their mental health.  Signs of depression and anxiety were found in half of U.S. adults surveyed, according to a study published by the medical journal JAMA.

You may have seen signs around the community offering words of encouragement, along with three numbers, 2-1-1.

“2-1-1 is a helpline, an information line, and a crisis line,” said Mary Mundt Reckase, Director of Great Rivers 2-1-1.

A lot has happened in the past few months.

“We’re seeing a lot of people struggling with so much uncertainty,” said Julie Conway, Director of Behavioral Health Specialty Services for Mayo Clinic Health System.

According to the La Crosse County Human Services department, they have around 350 individuals involved in their long term Comprehensive Community Service.

“The experience we’re having is that mental health concerns are woven into calls that might originally focus on something else,” said Mundt Reckase.

Factors like the pandemic, finances, civil unrest, and the election have been common worries among callers. Conway says another avenue to get help is to go to a physician.

“We can help determine what the best fit is depending on what their needs are,” said Conway.

If you’re a concerned family member or friend, there are some things you should look out for.

“If you notice a change,” said Conway.

This includes, a change in behavior, communication or mood.

“It’s normal to go through challenging times in our lives, and part of what’s going to help us get through that, sometimes we need extra support and extra help,” said Conway.

“We would stress, the value, the connection and the importance of expressing what you are feeling,” said Mundt Reckase.

2-1-1 officials encourage those who are hesitant to call, to do it anyway. Mary says 2-1-1 operators are equipped to help talk through all types of situations and want to help those who may be struggling.