The state of mental health following Hurricane Michael

PANAMA CITY Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Mental health in the area is on the decline--that's according to some experts.

Tricia Pearce, Community Relations Specialist at Life Management Center, said, "We're definitely seeing some increases in people having some problems with depression or anxiety."

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez spoke with Florida Department of Health in Bay County officials Wednesday afternoon about the issue.

"I had the opportunity to tour the local county health department and that was an issue that brought up by their leadership. Indeed they've seen an increase in challenges with mental health due to the storm," said Nuñez.

But almost seven months after Hurricane Michael, Pearce says now is the time that increases in mental health issues generally occur rather than immediately after a disaster.

She says following the hurricane, people concentrated their efforts on clean up, but now, "We're at that point where you're gonna see people start to get frustrated because they may not be seeing the progress they want to see."

Nuñez says it's an important issue that requires government attention.

"And so working with the state, working with the legislature to make sure funding opportunities that are existing today, that they continue to increase opportunities for mental health for our students in particular," said Nuñez.

Pearce says knowing the signs of a possible mental health issue can make all the difference.

"Noticing changes in how people are doing. If they seem depressed to you, if you're seeing some of that, if you see some signs like they're sleeping an awful lot or maybe they're showing some anger more so than they normally would," said Pearce.

She adds the most important thing to know is that there's always help.