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Mental health on the rise in Western New York

"With the start of the COVID pandemic mental health has really been up in the forefront in a lot of people's minds."
Posted at 6:03 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 18:03:56-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, and experts from Spectrum Health and Human Services say mental health is in the spotlight now more than ever.

Dr. Nilofar Sarvaiya tells me that often silent battle is on an uptick in Western New York.

"Some warning signs for depression will include feeling sadness, a loss of pleasure, and life changes in sleeping habits," says Dr. Sarvaiya. "As well as eating habits and energy level changes and sometimes even thoughts of death and suicide."

Dr. Sarvaiya says depression is a mental illness, not a personal weakness, but there are ways to combat it by seeking medical help.

"Maintaining a structure during the day can be very helpful," she says. "Reaching out to people to talk to them is helpful."

Other experts like Christine Ziemba of Spectrum Health have noticed an increase among youth.

"54 percent of the youth feel like they couldn't go to their parents, and 58 percent didn't feel like there was an adult that they can go to," says Ziemba. "So being able to sit down with their child and say I notice you, I see you, I hear you, let's talk about what's going on."

Spectrum Health offers mental health and addiction counseling for all ages at more than a dozen locations across Western New York.

Ziemba says seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

"Foremost, I think it's time for us to say Hi. How are you doing? And notice," says Ziemba.

Spectrum Health & Human Services operates a 24/7 helpline: (716) 710-5172.
The C.A.R.E.S 24/7 line for children in crisis is 717-882-4367.

Click here to find out more about Spectrum Health & Human Services.