Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said at a press briefing on Monday, May 10, 2021, that providing services to those experiencing mental distress is vital. Photo courtesy WAPT
While proclaiming May as Mental Health Awareness Month in the City of Jackson, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said that the COVID-19 pandemic has mental-health implications for the capital city’s population.
"[T]hat proclamation seeks not only to identify the ongoing challenges, which communities face with respect to mental health, the ongoing challenges that families and individuals face, but also recognizing the unique moment we have been in over the last several months in the midst of COVID in which all of that has been amplified," Lumumba said at a press briefing on Monday, May 10.
On April 30, President Joe Biden declared May as National Mental Health Awareness Month.
"The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis has impacted the mental health of millions of Americans. Isolation, sickness, grief, job loss, food instability, and loss of routines has increased the need for mental health services," Biden said in a statement. "At the same time, the need to protect people from COVID-19 has made it more challenging for people to access mental health services, and harder for providers to deliver this care."
Lumumba, who announced the lifting of some COVID-19 business restrictions at the media briefing, said that his administration, beginning in April 2020, has continued to run a phone line throughout the pandemic where people can call if they were experiencing emotional distress during the pandemic and plans to continue to provide it in the future.
"We have to be certain that we provide the wraparound support to our community as it relates to mental health," the mayor said. "So, we thought it important not only to establish our hotline as it related to COVID, but I'm grateful for the people who volunteered their time, their service and their talents to help staff our warm line."
Lumumba said the number to call is 601-586-3073, to speak with volunteer "credible messengers," pastors, clinical social workers, substance-abuse professionals, and psychologist between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m, Monday to Friday.
"[N]early one in five Americans (live) with mental-health conditions (and) the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis have significantly increased the incidence of people experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression," the proclamation said. "One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14 and three-quarters by the age 24."
"[T]he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in February 2021 that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause among young youth; these rates are disproportionately high among black youth and LGBTQI persons," it added. “[P]ublic education and efforts to raise awareness are critical to improve the lives of individuals and families struggling with mental health conditions in the city of Jackson."
Free one-hour fitness classes are available from May 25 to July 24 at the "Fitlot" at Parham Bridges Park at 5055 Old Canton Road. AARP sponsored the fitness lot, which opened in October 2019.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Ison Harris said that the department put training plans on hold because of the pandemic. "[Y]ou have to call and register and these classes," he said at the press briefing. "Because all the classes will be limited inside probably eight to 10 people. We will have certified fitness instructors who will actually be there teaching those classes." The number to call is 601-960-0655.
Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.