The Dakota County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday observed May as Mental Health Month in Dakota County, where resources are available to people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic's ripple effects.
Some residents are struggling with the long-term impacts of the illness, including loss of loved ones, social isolation, job loss, changes in routine and community trauma. They are experiencing fear, anxiety and stress.
People with pre-existing mental illness and people of color are among those hardest hit during the pandemic. Between 2019 and 2021:
- Dakota County's 911 team experienced a 23-percent increase in calls involving a mental health crisis.
- South Metro Fire (West St. Paul and South St. Paul) responded to 11 percent more psychiatric incidents.
- Opioid-overdose deaths climbed by 136 percent.
“Our communities are experiencing a second pandemic, where the devastation of COVID-19 is compounding pre-existing mental health challenges," said Dakota County Social Services Director Evan Henspeter. “There is no simple fix to the resulting mental health trauma, but there are resources for people who are struggling as a result of the pandemic."
Help is available for those in need. Dakota County provides people with tools to improve mental health and cope with challenges — in addition to a network of community mental health services.
To access mental health resources, crisis hotlines, addiction assistance and more, visit the Mental Health page. A 24/7 crisis response line is available at 952-891-7171.