MILWAUKEE — As the pandemic continues, so do people's struggles with mental health.
At least 42 percent of people have reported feelings of anxiety or depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 4 out of 10 adults have reported the pandemic has had a serious impact on their mental health.
It has some people turning to creative ways to cope with the stress. TMJ4 goes 360 on what people are doing to improve their mental health during this time.
Nickie Brandenberger has been struggling with pandemic fatigue. The mother of two says the days have gotten harder for it.
"I can feel that negative energy and lack of patience with simple things build,” said Brandenberger.
To get through it, she hits the trails. Brandenberger has taken up hiking by herself. She isn't the only one. According to Statista, last year 57.8 million Americans were hiking as well, which is a 16 percent percent increase from 2019.
“I know I have to build in some time to get away and do something for a whole day. So that recharges me,” said Brandenberger.
Outside is also where Theresa Garcia recharges. But she finds her solace in a unique sport that she often plays with friends: disc golf. Garcia learned to play disc golf in 2020. She has found playing a sport has made a difference during the pandemic.
“It’s such a safe socially distant outdoors thing to do,” said Garcia.
The American Psychological Association finds people who spend at least two recreational hours outside in a week reported significantly greater health and well-being.
“It really helped a lot of people, myself included, stay sane during this crazy unpredictable time,” said Garcia.
Helping others is Marrika Rodgers job. The Milwaukee counselor hears daily from parents who are struggles in our community.
“They have very little help and are so heartbroken with the fact that they haven't been able to engage with their children because they have so much on their plate,” said Rodgers.
According to Office of Children’s Mental Health, at least 51 percent of moms of young children have reported frequent and constant loneliness.
It is an issue Marrika knows first hand. She is a mother as well and says the pandemic has been difficult. She has started monthly community healing sessions and a parent support group.
“I had to learn to better communicate my own feelings with my daughter, like, being honest that today I need to rest. That communication is important because you never want your child to feel like you're neglecting them. But they need to understand just as you try to help them live their best lives mentally and emotionally, you need to make sure you’re at your best as well,” said Rodgers.
Bringing people together is how a Brookfield man has been getting through the pandemic. For more than a year and a half, Gary Kilvinger plays the trumpet for his neighborhood. He does it every Sunday night.
“Playing on the end of my driveway was kind of fun. Never did that before and also having some people come out and listen to it and actually appreciate it and it kind of gave me a good feeling on the inside,” said Kilvinger.
That feeling is proven to work. Studies by the National Institutes of Health say playing an instrument does more for a person’s mental health than just make them “feel good.” Studies show it can decrease a person’s anxiety level and help with stress.
It also helps the person listening to the music. Kilvinger says even though he only plays for a few minutes it is a time for him and the neighborhood to take a break.
“You know, while the venue doesn't change and the program doesn't change very much still means something to that person and so I'm thinking that's a real important thing for me to give back to the community, something that I have to give,” said Kilvinger.
If you need help coping during this time there are some free local resources available for mental health help hereor you can call 2-1-1 for more. If you need help right now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24 hours a day.