Mental health experts seeing ongoing increase for services from derecho on top of a trying year

Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 6:20 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Many eastern Iowans are still in the midst of clean up after a catastrophic storm. That’s on top of a pandemic.

“Most feel like it’s just not ending like it’s just one thing after the other,” said Foundation 2′s Crisis Services Director Drew Martel. Mental health experts, like Martel, are seeing the needs from the community only grow.

“I think what we’ve got going on is this compounding effect of multiple stressors,” said Martel.

After the storm, the staff at Foundation 2 were on hand at the city’s resource centers to help. Now, that they’re closed the Crisis Services Director says the need hasn’t gone away.

“Initially after the derecho, we got a lot of stuff related to basic necessities. People were looking for where can I get ice, electricity, who am I supposed to call?” Martel added. Martel says it’s now shifted from survival needs to revealing underlying mental health issues that may need attention moving forward.

“I think mixed in with the pandemic and the derecho is significant financial hardships for families, and that creates a perfect recipe for significant health-related issues,” Martel said.

Martel says staying on routine whether eating or sleeping is important, but it goes beyond that.

“One thing that’s important, if you were worried about someone previously now is a really in important time to check in with them and possibly reach out for professional support,” said Martel.

“Suicide risks can increase with financial hardship and there’s no shortage of financial hardships right now.”

University of Iowa Clinical Psychologist Stacey Pawlak says other signs to watch for in yourself and others include an increase in the severity of conditions. “Manifestations of stress come in all different forms,” said Pawlak.

“Physical symptoms having stomachaches and headaches that will be misinterpreted as something other like I just had a bad day but it’s stress.”

Pawlak says when assessing yourself it’s important to be honest to determine what you need. She adds there are lessons we can all take from hardships now and use in the future.

“There’s things we’ve all had to deal with on one level or another. We’re going to use those strategies that we have used in the past to deal with what’s ahead of us,” Pawlak said.

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