Monday, March 22, 2021

'They're ready to put the boulder down': The weight of the past year is wearing people out, mental health experts say

From JSOnline:
Haley BeMillerMadeline Heim

Editor's note: If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or text "Hopeline" to the National Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

Last April, Catherine Packard and her family were supposed to gather together at the Hobnob supper club in Racine to honor her grandfather at his favorite restaurant and consume plenty of Gorgonzola bread, French onion soup and steak. 

Instead, they found themselves facing an uncertain world. Family members in Washington state were hesitant to travel after COVID-19 had torn through the Life Care Center of Kirkland, ultimately killing 35 people. They decided to cancel and hold the reunion over Zoom.

"For my whole family, I think that was sort of a tipping point into this becoming real," said Packard, 43, who lives in Butler. "Having an understanding that this was not going to be a quick event — that it was going to be like running a marathon."

Experts say the coronavirus's disruptions have led to what can also be described as a mental health pandemic. They've seen more people who need services to work through depression, anxiety and stress.

"(People) have been carrying a boulder across a running river, and they feel like they're ready to put the boulder down," said NAMI Wisconsin executive director Mary Kay Battaglia.

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