LOGAN — Lindsey Jones has struggled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Clinical Depression since she began college at Utah State University.
Jones, a senior studying Economics, said her mental health was improving in the last few months, but after Utah State University announced classes were moving online, events were canceled and graduation was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — she struggled to pick herself back up.
“There are big events I was looking forward to,” she said.
She cried for hours as she read each email detailing what was canceled.
“Big events, trauma and big world events have an intense impact on me physically,” she said. “I feel things very deeply.”
Jones is one of several Cache Valley residents who detailed their mental health struggles and how they have worsened since the pandemic reached the valley last month.
Hanna Pectol worked at The White Owl and Crepery while finishing her degree in printmaking.
The White Owl shut down completely after Gov. Gary Herbert required all bars to do so, and The Crepery has cut her shifts drastically, as they are now only doing curbside service due to the stay-at-home directive from Herbert.
“The whole thing has been really anxiety-inducing,” she said. “All of this happened and it ripped away that routine I had going on.”
Pectol’s already-diagnosed General Anxiety Disorder worsened as she waited for the Department of Workforce Services to approve her unemployment status and grant her benefits necessary to pay her necessities and buy groceries,
“All of this happened and it ripped away that routine I had going on,” she said. “There was a solid two weeks where I couldn’t do anything.”
Pectol graduates this month and all plans she had after graduation are now off-the-table — at least for the foreseeable future.
Her plan was to attend an international printmaking contest and network with graduate programs while at the conference.
“I just started melting down because I don’t know what I’m going to do next,” she said. “I’m stuck in this panic of I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I’m about to graduate and I don’t know what the next step is and a lot of the resources I can’t really use right now.”
While psychological counseling and therapy have moved almost entire to phone calls and video chat apps, mental health resource departments in Cache Valley say they’re still open — and doing their best to help where they can.
“We’re still offering services to clients, we just had to change the format,” said Brock Alder, director of Bear River Mental Health.
Similarly, the Bear River Health Department is still offering their mental health services to those in need during the pandemic.
“(Therapy over the phone) may be a little bit tough for a new client to navigate, but they just have to call in and we’ll do it all over the phone,” said Holly Budge, spokeswoman for the Bear River Health Department. “When this stuff ends or gets better we’ll kick back and do it as we’ve always done it.”
Bear River Health Department serves as the local authority for substance abuse counseling mandated by the courts, and Budge said those services are primarily continuing as normal — clients who are court-mandated still take frequent substance use screenings, just at a less frequent pace.
“We just try to help fill the gap,” Budge said.