BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As the coronavirus pandemic rolls on, it continues to take its toll on mental health, leading to a surge in calls to mental health resources.

Elijah McBride, a counselor for Baltimore’s Crisis Response’s Here2Help Hotline, said the hotline is among those seeing a spike in call volume.

“Since the pandemic, these calls are starting to be more and more,” McBride said Tuesday.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: 

McBride described the callers he’s hearing from: “people are fearful, people are anxious.”

“People that I hear from are concerned about the unknown,” said Charita Brown, who is a mentor at the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Maryland.

The surge in calls is creating concern from mental health professionals, asking whether these calls could create an uptick in suicides.

“In Maryland, we are seeing an increase in specifically African American suicides during the pandemic,” said Dr. Paul Nestadt of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the co-director of its anxiety clinic.

Nestadt said COVID-19’s toll on mental health in Maryland is particularly affecting communities of color.

“It’s hit minority communities the hardest, these are Black and Brown populations,” he added.

This comes as no surprise to both Brown and Tevis Simon, who also mentors at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They both say it’s been a struggle to stay positive.

Simon lost her aunt due to COVID-19, a blow to her and her entire family.

It’s why Brown said having a plan is essential for both her own mental health and the people she hopes to help.

“Have something that you can do to deal with it… if it means sitting down and having a cup of tea,” she said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate assistance, call Baltimore’s Crisis Response Here2Help Hotline 24/7 at 410-433-5175

Additional resources include:

  • People in crisis can get immediate help by calling Maryland’s crisis hotline (211, press 1),
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK),
  • SAMHSA’s national emergency number (1-800-273-8255).
  • Maryland veterans can also enroll in Operation Roll Call (1-877-770-4801) — a program that offers regular check-in calls and a chance to talk to someone who can offer support.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos

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