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The state of our mental health

Both kids and adults alike are in need of help

There are at least two communities in South Jersey – and likely more – concerned about our health and wellness.

First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Moorestown is hosting a fair next month that focuses on top concerns for residents in the township: health and wellness, according to reporting in The Sun.

The church found that Moorestown demographics within five miles of its location pointed to health as a major concern.

“Hearing that that was such a concern for people, we wanted to plan an event that would kind of address where people were at, and what people were worrying about and thinking about,” said Pastor Jessica Campbell.

In Collingswood, a new wellness center at the high school is meant to be a safe space for students in the face of what is an alarming number of teens in the U.S. who are not in good mental health, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The center will also address COVID-related stress among adults and kids both before – but particularly during and after – the pandemic.

A Pew Research Center study found that four in 10 parents nationwide with children younger than 18 say they are extremely or very worried their children might struggle with anxiety or depression at some point. Mental health is at the top of the list of parental worries.

Suicide became the second-leading cause of death among children 10 to 14 during COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mental-health related ER visits among kids 5 to 11 and 12 to 17 are up 24% and 31%, respectively.

Yet those issues were prevalent for about a decade before the pandemic, too. COVID was but one trigger for existing mental-health problems in both kids and adults.

“I would say over the last 10 years, since I’ve been practicing as a general pediatrician, I have seen a shift both in the amount of patients and of all ages dealing with anxiety and depression,” Dr. Katherine Williamson, a pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN.

“Even before the pandemic, we were seeing skyrocketing numbers of kids and adolescents dealing with mental-health issues, and that has increased exponentially since the pandemic.”

But adults in the nation have not been spared. According to Forbes Health, 21% of them had a mental-health condition in 2020, with 5.6% of those described as serious.

While young people ages 18 to 25 have the highest rate of mental-health conditions, at 30.6%, adults ages 26 to 49 are close behind, at 25.3%, and those 50 and over are at 14.5%.

That’s an awful lot of hurt in America. It will be important for groups and institutions like those in Moorestown and Collingswood to keep paying attention to the problem.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental-health condition, help is available and accessible. Call or text 988 or have a free chat online on the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline website.

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