Mental health still a daunting subject for some, experts say

West Virginia ranked poorly in a report for mental health.
West Virginia ranked poorly in a report for mental health.(WVVA News)
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 4:54 PM EDT
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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) - West Virginia received poor marks in a report by the United Health Foundation for mental health.

Ann Marie O’Brien, the Assistant Vice President of United Healthcare’s Engagement Strategies Team, said the results indicate the Mountain State has a prevailing issue with metal health but a lack of residents receiving help. She blames the trend on social stigma, the high cost of care, a lack of access and work-related constraints.

“Mental health should be treated just like a physical illness,” O’Brien said. “It is actually the same thing. And really, it’s about getting out there to the public and letting them know that they have access to these tools [...] and it’s okay to say that, you know, I need help sometimes.”

“The biggest part about mental health is that people are in denial,” said William Catus, the Clinical Director of Life Strategies Counseling in Beckley. “There is a negative perception that people have in their minds about mental health. But most people now, they’re beginning to be aware of it and see that there is a need for it.”

The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated mental health concerns for some. A study by the Boston University School of Public Health found depression in adults has tripled since March 2020, from eight percent to 28 percent.

“We have to look after the well-being of the world,” Catus continued. “Your neighborhoods, your church, your schools, where you work. You want to make sure you are asking the right questions, and the wrong question is the one you don’t ask.”

For additional resources and information on mental health in the Mountain State, visit the DHHR’s Bureau for Behavioral Health website.

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