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Pandemic, Employment Take Toll on NV Mental Health

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Mental Health America ranks Nevada 51st overall for its prevalence of mental illness and limited access to mental health services. (Adobe Stock/twinsterpro)
Mental Health America ranks Nevada 51st overall for its prevalence of mental illness and limited access to mental health services. (Adobe Stock/twinsterpro)
December 3, 2020

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Financial and emotional stressors are taking a toll on Nevadans' mental health as the pandemic continues and the holidays near.

Since the pandemic began, Nevada's National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), has seen a major increase in calls to its "warm line," a telephone line for folks who want to talk about their mental health but aren't in crisis.

Robin Reedy, executive director of NAMI Nevada, said 40% to 50% of this year's calls mentioned COVID-19 as a stressor. Nearly 30% cited employment. And 50% to 80% of the calls were for depression, anxiety and social isolation.

Reedy added as it gets colder, access to housing and food security are becoming increasingly urgent.

"While they're not directly mental health issues, they are," Reedy explained. "Because without a roof over your head and food, you're not worried about therapy or medications or getting a prescription."

The Silver State is ranked 51st overall by Mental Health America for its prevalence of mental illness and limited access to mental-health services.

Reedy contended that's due to workforce shortages of psychologists and psychiatric nurses, as well as transportation and communication issues.

Reedy observed the massive expansion of telehealth has been extremely useful. She said it's something NAMI Nevada and others in the mental-health support community have been pushing for years, but it's never been a priority for the state until now.

"Not for everyone, but for those people that it works for," Reedy maintained. "Because we have transportation problems, communication problems, all across the state and telehealth could help with that."

Reedy noted because funds for mental-health services come from the state's general fund, they're the first to be cut in an economic downturn.

She and NAMI are urging the state to dedicate specific funds to these services, as well as ensure there's funding parity between mental and physical health.

Lily Bohlke, Public News Service - NV