Mental health nonprofits report increase in demand, shifts in referrals
MARYLAND – It may be hard to believe but it’s been about eight months since we started feeling the impacts of pandemic related closures and other challenges. On Monday, 47 ABC spoke with two Eastern Shore nonprofits that offer services including counseling and therapy. Experts say many people who don’t have a formal mental health diagnosis are reaching out for help more than they have in the past and the reasons they’re reaching out seem to relate directly to the pandemic.
“So there’s been an influx of folks coming through. Since March, we’ve seen a steady climb,” says Lesa Lee, the Chief Clinical Officer of For All Seasons.
For All Seasons is a nonprofit based in Easton that offers therapy, counseling, rape crisis response and countless other services. Directors tell 47 ABC they’ve seen more than 650 new clients since March 1st, 2020.
Beth Anne Langrell, the Chief Executive Officer of For All Seasons, says, “We weren’t seeing the volume of people saying, ‘I’m thinking about committing suicide.’ But what we were seeing more people saying, ‘I just can’t get out of bed. I’ve never felt this way before. I don’t have a diagnosis.'”
Experts believe the increase in demand for their services is directly tied to the pandemic because people are encountering a combination of new stress factors. “So where people might’ve been at the edge of a breaking point now they are sort of like spilling over because the capacities to manage situations is a little more challenging,” says Lee.
Meanwhile, the director of a Worcester County based center says the top reasons for referrals to their agency have shifted also reflecting the pandemic’s stressors. Now anxiety and depression are tied for the most common reason, followed by substance abuse and family or marital difficulties. “So it said to us people were not only anxious and depressed but struggling to cope in various ways and struggling to be stuck under the same roof for day and days on end,” says Dr. Jennifer Leggour, the Executive Director of Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services (WYFCS).
As these centers work to keep up with the demand, some even looking to hire more staff and adapting services to be virtual, their hope is that people feel empowered to reach out. “Sincerely from my heart my hope is that whether they are the support to people who are having a hard time or whether they are the person who is really suffering and needing to reach out my hope is that everyone works a little bit on self compassion,” says Lee.
For All Seasons offers resources for both the English speaking and Spanish Speaking communities across Maryland’s Mid Shore regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. They have locations in Easton, Cambridge, Denton, Chestertown, Stevensville and Tilghman. They can be reached by phone at 410-822-1018 or here online.
For All Seasons has 24-hour hotlines 800-310-7273 or 410-820-5600. You can also send a text in English or Spanish to 410-829-6143.
Worcester Youth & Family Counseling is located in Berlin and can be reached by phone at 410 641-4598 or here online.