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As we continue to deal with stress and anxiety associated with Covid-19, along with fears about what may happen next, a leading Las Cruces doctor and psychiatrist is advising people to reconnect with loved ones and to stay in present time.
Mesilla Valley Hospital (MVH) Chief Medical Officer Aghaegbulam Uga said dealing with the pandemic and with fears about public health, the economy and the world situation since the Russian invasion of Ukraine are also contributing to increasing levels of aggression and violence in Las Cruces and across the country.
“Mental health is going to be the next Covid,” he said.
Many people experienced a fragmentation of their social support networks even as they were struggling with isolation and boredom, losing jobs, domestic violence, child abuse and divorce, Uga said.
These factors have escalated drug and alcohol abuse, which goes hand in hand with a loss of judgment and increases “the chances of acting out at the slightest provocation,” he said.
“With substance abuse comes aggression,” Uga said.
The community’s most vulnerable populations are often those most severely impacted, he said, including the homeless.
“These people are in a desperate situation,” Uga said.
As summer temperatures rise well above 100 degrees, think for a moment what it would be like if the air conditioner at your house stopped working and there was no one available to repair it, he said.
“Imagine how you’re going to feel,” Uga said.
That is what it’s like for people living on the street, he said. In addition to food and shelter, many are seeking “minimal comfort.”
Las Cruces and El Paso lack adequate resources to deal with the drug addiction, mental health and homelessness issues they are facing, he said.
“Most counselors are very busy right now,” Uga said. Some are “stretched to the limit.”
The result is “a lot of stress on all of us,” he said.
Uga’s advice: Rebuild your social support network by opening up more, talking to friends, neighbors and family and seeking support from a counselor.
It’s also important for each of us to remember to take one day at a time, Uga said. “Do not overthink the future. Excessive worry about the future” helps nothing.
“I strongly believe we’re going to come out of this,” he said, but it will take time.
MVH provides in-patient care for people in acute crisis and has an outpatient program for those dealing with anxiety and other issues that do not require hospitalization.
You can “walk in the front door and get an assessment,” said MVH Business Development Manager Judy Baca. “We want to help people,” she said. “That’s our passion.”
A psychiatric facility that opened in 1987, MVH is located at 3751 Del Rey Blvd. MVH provides a no-cost, confidential assessment for ages 12 and up 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Call 575-382-3500 and 800-877-3500.