A local doctor’s advice on making your mental health a priority

Burnout, depression and anxiety are among the top reasons more and more people seek help from mental health professionals.

AUSTIN, Texas – According to a new survey by the American Psychological Association, burnout, depression and anxiety are among the top reasons more people in the US are seeking help from mental health professionals, and Texas is no exception. dr Alfonso Mercado, a psychologist and associate professor at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, joined KVUE to discuss.

Are more people struggling with mental health issues, or are more people simply seeking professional help?

Absolutely. Mental health was another pandemic that didn’t get much attention. Yes, we are going through a COVID-19 pandemic, but we are going through multiple pandemics and one of them is mental health. The pandemic has exacerbated symptoms of depression and anxiety, and also triggered mental health symptoms. It’s really concerning because of the lack of mental health resources in some communities in our Lone Star State.

Let’s talk more about the pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic. How did that affect people psychologically?

Well, one thing that the pandemic has done is that it has exposed the health care inequalities that exist in our country and also in Texas. In addition to the disproportionate rate that COVID-19 has had among people of color, access to caregiving issues, in addition to the many things COVID-19 has brought, such as the financial stressors, job losses, home quarantine were quarantined at home, many communities could not do this and they had to work. For example, the immigrant population is one group that has not benefited from the CARES Act and many other benefits enjoyed by many US citizens. So that’s one of the reasons these communities got COVID-19 at a much higher rate.

You mentioned access to medical care, which the American Psychological Association says is a really important issue. We are now facing a crisis when it comes to mental health. How bad is it?

Absolutely. We are definitely living through a mental health crisis, another pandemic. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the state of Texas is last in line for mental health funding for various programs in our communities. Many underserved areas, rural, rural areas in the state of Texas have been tremendously affected and there is a long waiting list. Many of my colleagues in this field – psychologists, social workers, therapists, counselors – have a waiting list. Community mental health clinics have a waiting list due to this urgent need we are currently living in.

We talked earlier about the fact that more and more people are trying to get care. How does a person know when it’s time for them to seek help, mental help?

That’s a great question. Once the depression symptoms, the anxiety symptoms start affecting your daily life, you know when you are unable to sleep, unable to eat properly, when the symptoms start affecting your personal relationships, your productivity at work, you know, that’s very worrying. The treatment is available and the treatment is working. But again, there is a concern about the problem of access to care that we currently have given the increase in mental health symptoms in our communities.

After all, there might be someone looking at this right now and saying, “Maybe it’s about time I got help.” And some people may not know what to do. They may have no idea where to go or what to do. What advice would you give to someone like that?

I think what is very important is to see what kind of support system that person has – family members, friends or peer groups. You know, it’s so important to tap into that social circle right now. If you look at the availability of treatment programs in the community, you also know that there is a waiting list with many clinics reaching out to the local community, mental health centers and local crisis centers that are available 24 hours a day. Knowing where and who to call is very important. As I mentioned earlier, treatment is possible. It helps and hopefully the person gets the help they need.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can use the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline. Anyone who calls or texts 988 is connected to trained advisors who can provide support and connect callers to resources.

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https://www.kvue.com/article/news/health/mental-health-interview-dr-alfonso-mercado/269-f4ecb921-55b0-4a41-9619-549261512f33 A local doctor’s advice on making your mental health a priority

Laura Coffey

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