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Anxiety Grows As Coronavirus Pandemic Wears On

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The coronavirus pandemic continues and local crisis groups have seen an uptick in callers worried about their mental health and financial situation as a result.

As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps people inside for a long period of time, many are also seeing their anxiety sharply increase as well.

Consequently, groups like the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the National Alliance On Mental Illness in  Hillsborough County (NAMI)  are seeing more phone calls from people needing assistance.

“We’ve certainly have seen the increase in the number of calls, specifically around COVID-19, to the point that from March 28th to April 3rd, the 1,800 calls we took, 704 of those were for community members needing support related to COVID-19,” said Clara Reynolds, president and CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

Reynolds said that most of the calls they get are in regard to worries of contracting the coronavirus, as well as the financial problems many are facing as they enter the fourth week of either working from home or are out of work entirely.

More than 10 percent of Americans nationwide have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, with 6.6 million more filing initial claims for jobless benefits last week.

Reynolds also said that people are forced to adjust their work schedules to homeschool their children while working a full-time job from home — all while hearing media reports about the situation that compounds their anxiety even more.

"I’ve been referring to it as almost as a 'crazy soup' that we’ve created," said Reynolds.

She also recommends people limit their media consumption, and monitor reliable sources so they’re not overwhelmed with constant news of the pandemic.

“All across the board, every single person is experiencing some form of this pandemic, and I think that has contributed to this,” Reynolds said.

RELATED: Advice For Answering Children's Questions About Coronavirus

The center also suggests people continue practicing basic hygiene: washing hands frequently, not touching their faces, staying home if they experience symptoms of the virus and keeping up-to-date on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For those with mental illnesses, NAMI Hillsborough is offering more remote support groups all week, and recommend people get in touch with a psychiatrist or therapist if necessary.

“There’s really no clear understanding on how to keep ourselves safe, and that creates anxiety,” NAMI Hillsborough Vice President Natasha Pierre said.

Stressful times like these sometimes result in people learning they have a mental illness, Pierre said.

“But it’s also important to understand that having some nerves and having some anxiety at this time does not mean that you have a mental illness,” she said.

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is available by calling 2-1-1. Donations are accepted at their website.

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