WACO, Texas — The World Health Organization announced in early 2022 depression and anxiety increased by 25% worldwide following the pandemic. Many Texas counselors said they've also seen an increase in people needing their services locally.
Cheryl Mikeska owns a counseling center in the Brazos Valley. She said the need for her services has increased significantly in the last two years.
"COVID obviously has presented a lot of challenges that most of us thought we would never have to encounter in our lifetimes," she said. "There's definitely been a rise in people coming in for counseling since COVID."
Jessica Stubblefield was one of those new clients.
"My kids were arguing all the time, everyone was feeling trapped and couldn't go anywhere, couldn't do anything," Stubblefield said. "COVID had a lot to do with pushing us to start counseling."
Stubblefield and her children all started counseling when the pandemic began. She said the changes that came with lockdowns and school at home felt overwhelming to her family.
"Being cut off from their friends and having everything in their life thrown completely upside down, not just them but me too," she said. "It's nice to have someone that you can say 'hey I'm really dealing with feeling trapped, feeling the disappointment.'"
The Stubblefield family was not alone in feeling this way. Mikeska said the pandemic was really hard on children, especially those already facing mental health challenges.
"We have those children who already had anxiety challenges and then to add something like COVID has been really difficult," Mikesha said. "Infection fears for them has been a new fear they never had to worry about. Or it added to the fear they were already dealing with."
While COVID cases have calmed down and most restrictions have been lifted, there are still people struggling with their mental health.
Mikeska said she's glad to see so many people seeking professional help and encourages counseling to anyone in need.
"The fact that people are talking about it is what I would recommend," Mikeska said. "People who are willing to admit their vulnerabilities, admit their struggles, look for those resources available, the support groups, the counseling services."