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Many see decline in mental health as pandemic continues to persist

We saw light at the end of the tunnel when cases declined as vaccines became available. Now, we're in the worst surge of the pandemic and people feel the drain.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — There was already in a mental health crisis in the United States before the pandemic. Now, it's only gotten worse as we continue to deal with some of the hardest times in recent memory.

Isis Pettway, a Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC), said we are in a constant state of hyperarousal. 

It's the fight or flight response that a person feels when they suddenly come under high stress or traumatic events.

"Frustration. What we are seeing is definitely exhaustion. What you pretty much see in burnout. People are burning out," Pettway said.

It comes along with feelings of hopelessness and worry. Anyone from healthcare workers to parents can feel the depression and anxiety.

"Especially now with more news coming out now about how this is impacting children," Pettway said. "You've got a whole different layer than you did in the beginning of this pandemic that we saw come to light a year ago."

We can even feel overwhelmed by both the unlimited flow of information and social media. Pettway said it can take 'mental gymnastics' to keep up with all the information developing about the pandemic.

But Pettway does have advice on effective methods to keep up with your mental health:

  1. Acknowledge grief and your trauma. Make sure to mourn the difficult times and let those feelings out.  
  2. Disconnect from social media and work. 
  3. Take time to relax whether it's on vacation or with friends or family.  
  4.  Find things you are thankful for and focus on the positives in your life.
  5. Meditation. Grounding techniques can help you quickly come down from overwhelming feelings.

If you are looking for help, the statewide mental health resource AR-Connect is available 24/7. You can call 501-526-3563 or 800-482-9921.