World Mental Health Day was Saturday. Our daily lives have been considerably changed because of COVID-19, but here in Louisiana our lives are impacted even more by this year’s relentless hurricane season.

Approximately 15% of Louisianans experience some type of mental illness. However, that percentage is rising as our children and adults experience these unprecedented times.

The novel coronavirus has severely impacted our ability to socialize, attend school and church, go to work, and receive the in-person health care to which we were accustomed. These things we so often took for granted helped sustain our wellbeing and, without them, we are struggling.

As if COVID-19 wasn’t enough, this year’s hurricane season has been busier than ever and has taken aim at our state more than any other. Hurricane Laura devastated southwest Louisiana and upwards in ways most cannot imagine, and they were hit yet again with Delta.

As 2020 draws to a close, what will we do to address our fellow Louisianans’ mental wellbeing?

The fate of Louisiana is linked to mental health. We must advocate now for secure and expanded funding for our mental health providers by educating others on the importance of mental health in Louisiana.

If the decades of high rates of homelessness, youth and adult incarceration, hospitalizations, and suicides weren’t enough to rouse policymakers in Baton Rouge to make mental health a priority, perhaps the grave consequences of 2020 will.

— Katie Corkern, Amite

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