Bay County mental health professionals want you to recognize symptoms


BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — The early signs of depression may be difficult to see, but Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital wants to put an end to the mental health sigma.

Regular daily stresses can be overwhelming for many, combine that locally with the current uncertainty of COVID-19 and still the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, for some, it can cause mental health issues.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health,” said Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital Director of Clinical Services Jeffery Stone.

An illness that affects the brain is how Stone explains mental health.

“Three years later there are still people struggling with the after-effects of Hurricane Michael,” said Stone. “And thrown on top of that we have an epidemic, a pandemic going on for the past year and a half and that’s put a lot of strain on people’s mental health.”

Based upon the inability to work for some and limited social support systems, Stone explains at least one in four people will experience a mental health crisis.

“Specific symptoms that we watch for across the spectrum tend to be withdrawing from the support system, decreased energy, decreased motivation to get up and do things, possibly increased irritability, and poor sleep,” said Stone.

Oftentimes, these mild symptoms can turn into substance abuse or thoughts of suicide.

“I think the mass majority of any receiving facility or inpatient psychiatric facility, the mass majority of the patients are going to be there for depression and suicide alley,” he said. “So we see that pretty consistently.”

There are of course ways that you can take care of your mental health at home. Talking with family or friends, seeking a support system, and talk with a therapist. Just to name a few. But if you do notice further assistance is needed, Stone said to reach out directly to Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital.

As another resource, this is the number for Bay County Crisis Line (850) 522-4485.

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