Missourians stress more than residents in any other state, survey finds

Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 9:41 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Americans have been worrying a lot through the pandemic. People living in Missouri apparently stress several hours of every day. A new “stress survey” reveals information about mental and physical health in the Ozarks.

“It’s causing more stress because they’re having to adjust to this new normal, or whatever we want to call it,” said psychologist Gabriel Cline.

Dr. Cline said his patients in Springfield are dealing with more chronic anxiety than ever before, causing more depression. His commonly encourages people to rank the stress they’re feeling on a scale of 1-10 and figure out one thing they can do to lower it. Cline mentioned questions anyone could ask themselves while feeling anxious.

“Can I breathe? Do I need to check out what my sleep is, my diet, my exercise? Am I around people that reduce stress or do they make me more stressed? Am I doing things I like doing,” Cline said.

The stress supplement Natrol Relaxia polled 12,500 Americans. It found Missouri residents were more stressed than people in any other state in 2020, worrying more than three hours per day. Their concerns were mostly finances, the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. politics and current events.

“We are seeing that no one has escaped the stressors and effects of COVID-19, obviously,” said Drew Adkins, with Missouri’s Department of Mental Health.

Adkins said the department has been trying to help with pandemic-related stress since last summer. Its Show Me Hope crisis counseling program connects Missourians to free support through a hotline. Adkins said, since last June, there have been 418 calls to the Disaster Distress Helpline. Adkins said, many times, teachers and healthcare workers are dialing in.

“What we’re really trying to do is to devolve the situation from that crisis, whether that is something that is immediate or the after effects of responding to the pandemic,” Adkins said.

Mercy’s Dr. Karen Hopkins said mental health can also directly affect a person’s physical well-being. She said lately, she’s seeing cases of high blood pressure, rashes and weight gain.

“Then that’s affecting people’s diabetes, blood sugar control. It’s affecting their cholesterol. It’s affecting the stress on their heart and their overall heath health,” Hopkins said.

Dr. Cline said therapy is more accessible now, as many psychologists have started offering telehealth counseling, which provides more opportunities for both providers and patients.

“I’m not just limited in who’s in my geographical area. I can now seek out providers in Kansas City, St Louis or anywhere in the state,” he said.

Cline said it’s vital to be vulnerable and reach out for help.

“Part of it’s being real and saying, ‘I’m not okay,’” he said.

Anyone needing to reach the Disaster Distress Helpline can call or text 1-800-985-5990. Adkins said the counselors can refer callers to providers in their area for more extended mental health care.

The Show Me Hope website has coping resources for families, workplaces and specifically for healthcare professionals, as well as self-care advice.

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