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How to deal with the increased risk of mental illness due to COVID-19, according to professionals

Medical experts say speaking with a family care provider is a priority when dealing with any kind of health but a simple smile is also a start.

YORK, Pa. — It's no secret COVID-19 has changed the lives of Americans throughout this past year, however, it's also impacted the health of many as well, including mental health. 

According to a CDC report, in the early months of the pandemic, the percentage of adults with symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders increased by more than 30 to 40%.

Dr. Marie Kellett, a family physician at Family First Health said this is partly due to the anxiety the pandemic has caused.

"They spend so much time worrying and being anxious, that even somebody without anxiety is now anxious, and so anybody with anxiety or depression -- it's just magnified," Kellett said.

Jenny Englerth, president and CEO of Family First Health explained the added difficulties is what has also impacted young people during this time.

"The combination of isolation, grief, and loss are really elements that we have to acknowledge and contribute negatively to a young person's mental health," Englerth said.

In a time of heightened anxiety, one may want and need to lean on their family which is why Englerth says the team works to provide great care to help family members.

"We understand the connections between family members," she said. "That allows us to identify and treat mental illness in very effective and responsive and most often preventative ways."

When dealing with mental health, it is important to discuss matters with a medical expert or family care provider and Englerth added it's important to be honest because a small matter can become big quickly.

"We have to pay special attention in those areas to make sure they're getting the support that they need so those that may be minor or a situational episode of depression does not extend unnecessarily beyond that situation," Englerth said.

Dr. Kellett explained simple ways community members can help, such as a smile. 

"I just think we can find common ground and express it in a smile," Kellett said. "I think it's the little things in a lot of this."

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