Robbin Cole, director of Pawnee Mental Services, said Monday that more Americans reported having anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

That didn’t necessarily lead to increased care at the local organization in 2020. However, Pawnee is preparing for additional requests for mental health services this year.

Cole updated the Riley County Commission on Pawnee’s affairs and reiterated the need for recognizing mental health issues in the local community after commissioners declared May as Mental Health Month.

An August 2020 online survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that U.S. adults reporting anxiety increased threefold, and those reporting depression increased four times compared to the same time as the previous year. The report also said an estimated 40% of adults reported struggling with some form of mental health or substance abuse issues in June.

Even so, Cole said the number of people actually reaching out for help in Riley County dropped about 9% in 2020, from 2,656 unduplicated residents in 2019 to 2,428. She said demand for services has started to increase again as things continue to reopen, and Pawnee recently contracted with two tele-health providers to accommodate patients.

In March, Cole said its Crisis Stabilization Center saw the highest number of assessments since it opened in November 2019 at 225 crisis assessments and 53 admissions. The last high was reported the previous month in February with 219 assessments.

Cole said before the pandemic, the center admitted about 30 people, and from March to December 2020, the average was 39. Since January, that number has increased to 46.

“We saw people really were sheltering in place (early in the pandemic), and the number of folks who reached out for services dropped significantly,” Cole said. “Now that we’re beginning to emerge from the pandemic, we’re seeing the number of people reaching out for help increasing, and we’re really scrambling to try and meet those needs.”

Monday’s county proclamation recognizes mental health’s impact on people’s overall health and wellbeing, as well as prevention and treatment efforts. It calls on businesses, schools, government agencies, health care providers, organizations and Riley County citizens in general to increase awareness and understanding of mental health, learn steps to protect mental health and recognize the need for adequate and accessible services for those with mental health issues.

Cole also gave a general update on Pawnee’s affairs to the county commission on Monday.

After the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation’s Grow Green Match Day fundraising event on Thursday, Pawnee has received a little more than $25,000 in contributions as of Monday morning. Officials are still counting mail-in gifts.

Cole said the center plans to use the money to help purchase a generator for their crisis center. She said the unit has experienced a few instances where the power went out.

“Last year on the front end of COVID, we saw a spike in contributions, which again, I think really reflects back on the community (and) reflects back on the people and their commitment to just a variety of different social services that we have,” Cole said.