By Tony Aiello

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Americans are reporting higher rates of anxiety and depression, and it’s being linked to the pandemic.

Months of stress and social distancing are taking a toll, and inspiring an effort in Westchester County to spread the word about help for mental health.

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As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reports, reassuring words like “Stay Strong Westchester” and comforting sayings may help, but cannot heal, the struggle each of us individually face during the pandemic.

“People who haven’t struggled with mental health disorders are now feeling pretty overwhelmed with all the changes or with everything going on, all the uncertainty and now do meet criteria for various mental health conditions,” said clinical psychologist. Dr. Brad Weiland.

MENTAL HEALTH & SOBRIETY RESOURCES

Job loss, worry about children’s social and emotional welfare, feelings of isolation are all driving increased rates of anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

A CDC report last summer showed 41% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, substantially higher than in 2019.

Westchester County sees a need to spread the word about help.

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A new campaign is steering Westchester residents to mental health support and local treatment.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

“We’re fortunate to have many good community providers out there to provide that support, not dependent on insurance,” said Westchester County Mental Health Commissioner Michael Orth.

Orth says there’s no stigma attached to seeking help, and it’s an act of kindness to reach out to a struggling loved one.

“One of the important things is just ask, inquire, how are you feeling today? I noticed that maybe you’re a little down. And just talking about it.” Orth said.

To reach diverse populations, the county is spreading the word through churches and community groups, and using state funds to boost local mental health resources – going beyond slogans to provide necessary support.

To check out resources available for Westchester County residents, CLICK HERE.

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Tony Aiello