Therapist offers tips ahead of Mental Health Awareness Month

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The United States is now in a transition phase of the pandemic, heading to some form of normalcy, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser.

Despite this, Central Valley therapists are seeing more patients reach out for mental health help.

"We're seeing such an increase in people just being super overwhelmed," said Sara Esparza, a marriage and family therapist at Kaiser Permanente Fresno. "I think that what's in our face is so much bigger than what we've seen before."

Esparza said the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's War in Ukraine and gas prices are just a few things in which people have had to adapt to. She's heard many patients say it's caused a disruption in their daily life, which became routine.

"When we can't do those regular structure things, I think that's when the overwhelm happens. So we're seeing just a big increase in just general anxiety and some mood shift stuff for people that haven't experienced it before," Esparza said.

She added that it's normal to feel overwhelmed or sad and stressed the importance of not comparing your situation to others - don't discount your own feelings.

"Just because my experience looks different, or might not be the worst-case scenario, it's still huge for me," said Esparza.

According to mental health experts, start practicing self-care now. Don't until you're at your lowest.

"I think we have to really look at ourselves and say, 'what is it that I need,' and make sure that what I need is what I'm putting into my day," explained Esparza.

Therapists encourage self-care every day to develop healthy coping habits. This allows you to be in a better place to manage any emotions that may come in the future.

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