‘COVID-19 has affected us all physically and mentally;’ Experts discuss Mental Health Awareness Month, impacts to all of us

Greenville

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, research shows there is a rise in mental health issues.

Dr. Janeé Avent Harris wants to see more diversity in the mental health profession.

“How do we increase community mental health workers and then also how do we increase advocacy and to make those services culturally affirming,” she said in an online interview on Tuesday. 

That’s something the Greenville Police Department is working on by using a co-responder model with mental health professionals.

‘This has been needed for a long time’: GPD launches first program around mental health response

“Our partnership with the mobile crisis is up and running,” Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman said. “They’re responding at least once or twice a day with us, sometimes a lot more than that, and serving the members directly.” 

The initiative started due to the rising tensions we’ve seen between law enforcement and the public in the last year. Holtzman said this partnership has already proven to be beneficial.

Even though there are many different resources available for people in person and online, it can be difficult to reach out for help.

“Historically, mental health has been stigmatized,” Harris said. “We’re combating historical narratives, we’re combating the vulnerability of going to say hey I am not OK.” 

East Carolina University has a counseling center on campus for students. The university also has “Project Don’t Wait,” which provides no-cost consultations to community agencies and school systems to improve mental health resources. 

“I want to encourage all community stakeholders, whether it be faith-based organizations, sororities, fraternities, other community centers to really do all you can to help us out this month, to really spotlight mental health awareness,” Harris said.

Below are some local mental health resources you can use, if needed: 

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