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Mental health access is vital during global pandemic, experts say

Feeling more anxious or depressed over these last few months? You aren't alone. Many people have experienced heightened stress during the pandemic, and experts are asking to keep mental health in mind.

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Many people may be experiencing increased anxiety during the pandemic, which experts say can be compounded by the sense of isolation that can come with social distancing.

That's why it's important for people who are vulnerable to increased anxiety to have access to mental health care, panelists said during an American Lung Association event on Wednesday.

"It's also really important to remember that one in five Americans had a diagnosed mental health condition before the pandemic," said Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Those people still need access to mental health care, he said.

Duckworth also stressed the importance of telehealth services and phone sessions for people without internet access.

"Pain shared is pain halved," Duckworth said.

Dr. Tyish Hall Brown, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at Howard University College of Medicine, emphasized that people also need to check in on the mental health of children and teens.

"Everything's kind of a catastrophic thought" for teens, she said, and it can be helpful to remind them that this break from in-person classes and seeing friends won't last forever.

Hall Brown advised parents to keep track of changes in their children's behavior and share these observations with a doctor, if they are concerned.

Nationwide, as of Wednesday, almost 5.2 million people have tested positive for the virus and at least 165,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins.