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Hampton Roads residents seeking more mental health services

Hampton Road mental health professionals are encouraging self-care and therapy sessions.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Thursday is World Suicide Prevention Day and this year, the impacts of a pandemic, racial tensions, and natural disasters all bring challenges to daily life. But it has also caused some to seek mental health services. 

"This COVID has been shining a light on a subject that has always been there, but now because more people are experiencing anxiety, depression, they’re just taking note more of their mental health now," said The National Alliance on Mental Illness Coastal Virginia Chapter facilitator Susannah Uroskie. 

Uroskie also knows how this year has impacted her own family.

"Our daughter, who is a young adult, lives with bipolar and is at a great point in her recovery. For her, it was tough in the beginning because maintaining a fixed schedule is really important. So they [people with mental disorders] lose their in-person support groups," said Uroskie. 

Uroskie’s daughter is not alone. More people are going to NAMI’s website and seeking services.

“Definitely, there’s been an increase in calls to the office. Increase in sign-ups for... we offer free classes and support groups and there’s definitely been an increase in demand for those now," said Uroskie. 

Meridian Psychotherapy Licensed Clinical Social Worker Regina Carroll is noticing the impact during her counseling sessions, too.

“We’re seeing relapses both with alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines, and when people are depressed and stressed, they often don't do the very things that can help," said Carroll. 

Lifestyle changes are also impacting children.

“But I am hearing through the parents that yes, children are affected. There’s been some, for example, potty training regression. There’s been some sleepless nights for some children, some clingy behaviors," said Carroll. 

Carroll explained one way to calm tensions is to visit with a therapist. In-person and Zoom sessions are available.

Another way is to focus on self-care.

"Trying to get good rest, trying to eat a healthier diet, exercising every day, getting some sunshine, talking to positive people that are supportive of you," said Carroll. 

Carroll explained it's good to know some signs of depression. 

Some symptoms can include changes in mood, diet, and sleeping more than usual.

"But at the same time for each individual, it’s OK to recognize your limits," Caroll said. "We all have limits. And again seeking help isn’t a weakness it’s a sign of strength."