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Milwaukee County Health Expert Says Providers Seeing An Increase In Anxiety & Depressive Disorders

The green ribbon is a symbol for mental health awareness.

Nearly one year into the coronavirus pandemic, adults continue to suffer from mental health struggles brought on by the stresses of COVID-19.

Job loss and isolation are among those stressors. Some folks are having trouble sleeping and eating, or they’re drinking more, or using other substances to deal with their worries and stress.

That’s what health experts had to say on Wednesday during the state’s Black Legislative Caucus panel discussion about rising mental health struggles in communities of color during COVID-19.

Kenneth Ginlack said health providers have seen an increase in anxiety and depressive disorder, with four in 10 adults reporting symptomsGinlack is the director of outpatient programs for the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division.

He highlighted young people as one population that’s struggling: "A larger than average share of young adults ages 18 to 24 report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. Compared to all the adults, young adults are more likely to report substance use as well. And because their number was already at about 13% across the country as far as substance use, it has increased to 25% since or during the pandemic."

Credit Screenshot / WISEYE.ORG
Kenneth Ginlack presents during a panel discussion hosted by the Wisconsin Black Legislative Caucus.

Ginlack said suicidal thoughts among young adults have increased from 11% to 26% across the United States.

But he said he’s seen an increase in individuals trying to get help.

"As a psychotherapist and a mental health provider that I see the increase of individuals that's reaching out now to say that 'You know, I'm feeling stressed, I'm feeling depressed, you know I just don't feel right.' And if you're not feeling right and you're not feeling up to your usual self then reach out, you know, and it's real important that we be supportive of each other," Ginlack said.

But seeking help is not easy when there’s a stigma associated with doing so, especially in the Black community. Ginlack said he recognizes that but hopes people can reach out to someone close to them if not a professional.

Other health experts participating in the panel discussion encouraged self-care as one way of helping to cope with stressors. Even if it's just taking some time throughout the day to focus on your breathing or to do something you enjoy.

Do you have a question about race in Milwaukee that you'd like WUWM's Teran Powell to explore? Submit it below.


Teran is WUWM's race & ethnicity reporter.
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