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Health officials warn of increase in anxiety, depression and opioid overdose during pandemic

Health officials in North Carolina say they've seen an increase in anxiety depression and binge drinking during the pandemic and more ER visits for overdoses.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Suicide prevention experts say it's time to take the stigma off of mental health issues and talk about it. 

This comes as health officials in North Carolina say they've seen an increase in anxiety depression and binge drinking during the pandemic and more ER visits for overdoses.

"We're in a crisis," said Fonda Bryant a suicide prevention trainer and member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Bryant isn't talking about the coronavirus crisis, but the suicide crisis.

"People don't really, really think its a big deal, they think its isolated incidents, and they have no idea how many people are dying every day," Bryant said.

Bryant says in North Carolina the numbers are astounding.

"Every six hours somebody dies by suicide in our state," Bryant said.

North Carolina Health Secretary Mandy Cohen recently announced that factors contributing to suicide have only increased during the pandemic.

"We are seeing concerning evidence of sharply increased rates of anxiety and depression in North Carolina, especially amongst younger people,” Cohen said.

Bryant says in speaking with teens who've attempted suicide or knew someone who had, she's noticed a trend.

"They tell me their parents don't listen to them," Bryant said. "They dismiss what they have to say, it's like, 'oh, that's no big deal, you'll get over that.'"

With the coronavirus claiming lives and jobs and changing the way of life in requiring more isolation, though, Bryant says mental health has to be taken seriously.

"You have to listen, you have to talk but you can't be judgmental," Bryant said.

To help, North Carolina Mental Health Director Victor Armstrong came up with SCOOP.

"SCOOP is an acronym that we've created to help you remember some helpful tips," Armstrong said.

SCOOP stands for stay connected to family and friends, compassion for yourself and others, observe the use of substances, ok to ask for help, and physical activity to improve mood.

"If we don't have mentally healthy youth, were not going to have mentally healthy adults," Bryant said.

The suicide prevention training Bryant gives is called QPR. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — the 3 steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide.

Bryant says will be training youth in QPR on Monday, August 10th. from 1:00-2:30. Adult training is every Saturday in August from 1:30 to 3:00 sharp. If you complete the entire hour and a half training, you receive a certificate that lasts three years but the training lasts a lifetime. 

You can learn more by contacting Bryant at Fonda Bryant on Facebook or emailing her at fondanc_40@yahoo.com.