Benton County’s Dannielle Brown Talks Covid, Mental Health

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide and needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for national assistance, call 1-888-232-7192 for the Benton County Behavioral Health. 

Like its predecessor, 2021 also proved to be another year that brought on isolation, fear, and anxiety due to persisting COVID-19 concerns. In the state of Oregon, mental health conditions have been exacerbated. From Sept. 29 to Oct. 11, 2021,  34.6% of adults in Oregon reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder, compared to 31.6% of adults in the U.S. 

Dannielle Brown, Behavioral Health Director for the Benton County Health Department said they don’t have definitive numbers as to how many more people have sought out help during the pandemic. “During our intakes we don’t specifically ask if there is increased symptoms because of the pandemic, so we have no way to substantiate whether needs are increasing based on pandemic environments.” 

When asked specifically if she saw any increases locally over the past two years, Brown said, “I would say that we have had an increasing demand for services, including individuals seeking crisis care.” 

More than three in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression since May 2020. This is compared to the year prior when roughly one in 10 adults reported symptoms of depression or anxiety, according to numbers released by the state.  

Substance Abuse 

There has also been an increase in concerns around substance use and overdoses during the pandemic. In September 2020,  15.1% of adults in the U.S. reported new or increased substance use due to pandemic-related stress.  

Deaths due to overdose have increased in Oregon from 12.4 per 100,000 in 2015 to 18.8 per 100,000 in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

Brown said the county has not seen an increase for drug or alcohol related services. “We have not yet done a data pull for 2021 to be able to review the numbers.  However, I would anecdotally say that we have not seen an increase in requests for services as of yet.” 

What Lies in the Future 

The mental health impacts of COVID-19 are expected to be felt for years to come especially with new variants and another large wave of cases looming all across the state.  

Brown made sure to mention immediate resources available for those needing mental health help or assistance locally. “Benton County continues to have Counselor of the Day services available at our main clinic at 530 NW 27th.  These are available to any community member regardless of insurance, ability to pay, or enrollment status.  Additionally, we encourage community members to use resources including the Crisis Text Line and suicide prevention hotline.” 

The state also offers a text line for people who would prefer not to call, text OREGON to 741741 for 24/7, confidential free crisis counseling. 

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide and needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for national assistance, call 1-888-232-7192 for the Benton County Behavioral Health. 

By: Jennifer Williams  

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