PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The COVID-19 pandemic has spiked stress and anxiety around the world. On Monday, Philadelphia launched a new campaign called “Mindful Together,” encouraging mental health awareness and for people to get help if needed.

People are stressed like never before. Calls to one mental health crisis hotline are up 900%.

Whether it’s fears about the virus itself, financial woes or the impact of self-isolation, doctors say COVID-19 is taking a toll on our collective mental well-being.

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“I have anxiety just driving around,” said Michael Johnson.

The longer the pandemic goes on, the worse many feel emotionally.

“You just don’t know when it’s going to end,” Johnson said.

“People have anxiety, people are uncertain and it’s stressing their mental health,” said Barb Bigalke, executive director for the Center for Suicide Awareness.

Lives have been disrupted like never before. Experts say people are worried about their health, finances, family strife, jobs and more.

“For some, this new reality has brought feelings of grief, loss, anxiety and stress or overwhelming sadness,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said.

Kenney announced the launch of a new campaign called “Mindful Together,” to raise awareness and sensitivity about growing mental health concerns.

“In the midst of COVID-19, mental well-being is more than important than ever and I want to remind Philadelphians you are not alone and it’s OK to seek help for these and other symptoms,” Kenney said.


Help is available by phone and online. People are being encouraged to find ways to connect and relax.

The Pandemic Crisis Response Coalition has a new website to help people find mental and emotional services. It’s a database that’s searchable by state, type of support needed and other categories.

Doctors say prolonged emotional distress can lead to serious physical issues, including heart disease, substance abuse, insomnia and suicide.

Calls to suicide prevention hotlines are up 40%.

“Their helplessness is overwhelming, their anxiety is overwhelming, they don’t have a social support that they normally would,” said Dr. Johnathan Porteus, CEO of Well Space Health.

Experts say, while we have to stay away from each other physically, it’s important to stay connected, either with phone calls or video links.

Depression rates are expected to increase, especially in places like Philadelphia where the stay-at-home order is still in place.

If you’re suffering or want some information, click on the links below.

Mental Health in PA

City of Philadelphia: How to take care of your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Pandemic Crisis Services Response Coalition

Stephanie Stahl