Health Issue: A focus on mental health | Health Issue | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Health Issue: A focus on mental health

click to enlarge Health Issue: A focus on mental health
CP Illustration: Lucy Chen
As the pandemic approaches its second anniversary, the number of people affected by COVID continues to take over news headlines across the globe. But it’s not just people’s physical health at risk.

The pandemic brought on a “mental health tsunami,” according to American Psychological Association CEO Arthur Evans Jr.

Results from a recent APA nationwide survey showed that the number of Americans seeking treatment for anxiety and depression has risen dramatically during the pandemic, along with other mental health issues, including substance-related disorders.

And, according to U.S. News and World Report, psychologists have not been able to meet the increased needs of those seeking treatment.

This year, Pittsburgh City Paper has been working to bring more attention to mental health issues in the region as part of “Pittsburgh’s Missing Bridges,” a collaborative reporting project by the Pittsburgh Media Partnership, a group of local media outlets focused on inequality in the region and potential solutions. The partnership’s current work explores the public health system’s response to mental health and how our communities can coordinate better care.

For our second annual mental health-themed Health Issue, you’ll see some of our project’s collaborative reporting, including stories from our partners WESA, Unabridged Press, and Soul Pitt. You’ll also read a first-person comics essay, co-published with PublicSource, written and illustrated by a local Pittsburgher who came face-to-face with her substance abuse during the pandemic.

Over the past several years, we’ve seen our city lose a number of important people in the arts community due to mental health issues. A&E editor Amanda Waltz has a story on breaking the stigma of the “tortured artist” and looks at ways people in need can get help. Columnist Tereneh Idia has a personal story on childhood abuse and a return to therapy after years of denial. And staff writer Dani Janae speaks to the owners of a new mental health-themed Oakland eatery who are offering more than just juice with their orders.

While physical health is important, we believe it’s also important to focus our attention locally to mental health in the hopes that changemakers and policymakers will realize the need for more resources.

What's promising, said Dr. Vivian Pender, president of the American Psychiatric Association, in U.S. News and World Report is that “more attention is being paid to mental health and well-being than ever before.”
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