MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A sobering report shows just how dangerous the COVID-19 pandemic has been to our mental health.

The Centers for Disease Control says 40% of adults in the US have faced at least one mental health challenge in the last five months leading to substance abuse and suicide.

 One young man battled his addiction and the advice that experts have to get us back on track.

Justin Goeman was just 15 when he started using heroin. “I was pretty young when I got into it,” he said.

It took him three years and 10 treatment centers to get clean.

“I realized you are who you hang out with so I realized I need to find myself a new environment to put myself in,” Goeman said.

Lately, with ongoing lockdowns, criminal justice, and political turmoil, he knows deep feelings can have dangerous consequences.

“I don’t think you have to look too far to see how addiction and the rise in overdoses go hand in hand with the conversations being had,” he said.

As Executive Director of NAMI Minnesota, Sue Abderholden has watched mental illness issues rise for five months.

“There’s a lot of anxiety. There’s depression that’s related to people being so isolated, not having physical contact or just not being out with friends,” Abderholden said.

The Centers for Disease Control says one in ten adults and 25% of people ages 18 to 24 had serious thoughts of suicide. 20% of essential workers said the same thing.

“Whether it’s in a nursing home, grocery store, nurse, hospital you’re coming into constant contact with people and that can really increase your anxiety about the future,” she said.

Abderholden said more people are finally seeking help.

“As we hit that three-month mark people couldn’t keep it together anymore,” she said.

Telehealth and socially distanced meetings in parks and parking lots have provided some relief.

Abderholden also suggests staying away from alcohol and sticking to a routine, believing grace and space will go a long way.  Just like they did for Goeman living a sober life for the last six years.

“We just have to be there for one another that’s probably the most important thing to share,” he said.

Help is always available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You can call 800-273-8255. Of if you prefer to text — you can do that too. Just text 741-741.

Liz Collin

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