MENASHA, Wis. (NBC 26) — According to the National Institute of Mental Health Disorders, 1 in 4 American adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder at some point in their lifetime. During the pandemic, CDC data shows that the number is moving closer to 1 in 3 adults.
Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley is feeling the impact of coronavirus on their patients. They've seen a steady increase in the number of people seeking help over the past two decades, but the pandemic has taxed the mental health crisis further.
Rosangela Berbert, executive director for Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley says the Center had 100 more billable hours in 2020 than 2019 even as staff shifted to telehealth services during the pandemic. Berbert says this shows that their patients are leaning more heavily on their services for longer periods of time.
"Compared to last year, so I did a comparison month to month, 2020 to 2021, we have been seeing the numbers fluctuating a little bit but overall I could say about 17 to 19 percent more utilization of our services than in the past," Berbert said.
While they contemplated pausing construction on their $2.85 million building in Menasha, they saw the compounding anxiety, depression, and stress from the pandemic and now two holiday seasons since the onset of coronavirus as necessary factors to continue expansion.
"We saw the mental health needs increase and we said of all the times, this is not the time to stop," Berbert said. "So we made the decision to continue because that was the most responsible thing to do."
Mary Beth Nienhaus is matching donations up to $250,000 towards the new building, which has already surpassed more than 50% of the funds allocated.
"We are asking people to first look in the mirror," Berbert said. "Look at yourself in the mirror and ask, am I okay? Then look at the people around you. Are my loved ones okay? Is my child okay? Is my spouse, my partner okay? Are my parents okay? How are my coworkers doing?"
You can donate to both the new building and ongoing operations at Samaritan Counseling Center here.