TAMPA BAY, FL. (CW44 News At 10) – Local experts are giving an update on mental and emotional health statistics that have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. They report receiving thousands of calls regarding the newly mandated regulations and adapting to those limitations.

Manuel Guevara-Ruiz, Manager of Veterans & Peers Initiatives at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay relates, “It is all a symptom, perhaps, of COVID-19 being the disorder of the disease.” The service that the Crisis Center provides is confidential trauma resources which range from suicide prevention and substance abuse to emotional trauma from current events, such as the pandemic. “This is the first connection and from here we sit with you, we speak with you we understand we validate, we work with you to get the resources that perhaps you need and the resources in our community.”

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Guevara-Ruiz continues, “All of the symptoms that we hear on those phone lines, they all come up at the same time. Now, we are talking about that stress and that anxiety over, ‘I am not employed,’ ‘We don’t know when I’m going to be able to get back to work’, ‘We don’t know when I’m going to be able to go to the grocery store and have that social interaction.’

Local Scientists have stated to CW44 News At 10 that they’ve indeed seen a spike in substance abuse cases over the last few months. Guevara-Ruiz elaborates, “The professionals will tell us, yes, there is a spike on things as such and it makes sense. Perhaps in that search for a coping behavior, but yes, there is this worry that we should be aware of as it pertains to substance abuse, as it pertains to domestic violence, as it pertains to one’s emotional health. I don’t think one has distinguished itself more than others.”

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The center and Guevara-Ruiz suggest taking the crisis one day at a time. “I think the most important thing is to be mindful of one and live in the here and now. Understand that I am exasperated because I am a very extroverted person, however in today’s world I am limited.” She insists if you’ve sampled the services before but were unsuccessful, you please try again as more resources have come available. “There are different resources. The whole COVID-19 has brought upon a unity in our governing bodies that has created resources for our community and they are here today, perhaps they weren’t here two months ago.”

If you or someone you know is struggling mentally or emotionally, or simply looking for local resources, call: 2-1-1 or visit the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay’s website.

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