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Mental health concerns persist as health experts brace for another surge in COVID-19 cases

As we prepare for another surge in cases, mental health experts say there is still a lot of anxiety about the future.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — As health experts brace for another wave of COVID cases, mental health advocates say the new omicron variant is creating another wave of anxiety.

Jessica Scrimgeour is an advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Coastal Virginia – also known as NAMI.

She said people are still trying to navigate the reality that many things have changed and many things will never be the same again.

“With the next wave coming, I think there’s a huge fear of ‘I don’t know,'" Scrimgeour said. “I think there was a hope or a thought that this was going to end and it hasn’t.”

The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll. People faced sickness, the loss of loved ones, a loss in income and employment, isolation, racial tensions and a lot of uncertainty.

“It’s kind of like, ‘Not again,’" Scrimgeour said. "I think there is a lot of that anxiety, a lot of that uncertainty. We do know what isolation looks like, we do know what the shut down looks like, we do know what restrictions look like, and I think there’s just this huge fatigued of, ‘I can’t go through that again.’”

But Scrimgeour said through the pandemic, we proved we can persevere, and many of us united.

“One of the biggest things that we saw was people actually came together, especially in a time where there was a lot of dissent elsewhere," she said. "We saw a lot of people come together to help lift others up.”

The pandemic also brought more openness and honesty on the topic of mental health. And resources are still available, including NAMI’s hotline: 757-499-2041.

“Even if you just want to call and say something out loud, or have somebody hear something, or talk something out, that’s what we’re here for," Scrimgeour said.

She said everyone’s voice matters and her team wants to ensure everyone has access to mental health services.

NAMI provides free support groups and classes – online and in person. For more information on how to connect with others or get help, visit NAMI's website.

They also have a helpline that you can call for any reason at 757-499-2041.

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