Almost a year after the director the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier first spoke about the mental stress the new coronavirus outbreak was having in an appearance on Southern Tier Close Up, Keith Leahey is back with the latest information on the pandemic and mental health.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

On this week's edition of the weekly, local public affairs program, Leahey says a lot has changed as the pandemic unfolded in the past 12 months but mental health issues associated with COVID-19 and its implications still loom large.

Leahey says the uncertainty of the early days has been replaced with frustration and anger for some as the pandemic and its restrictions drag on past one year.

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Long-term effects are being seen in family units that are stressed by remote learning, remote work and financial burdens from possible changes in jobs or other dynamics.  Leahey says there have been increases recorded in incidents of depression, suicide, mental health issues among children and substance abuse since the start of the pandemic,

Some things are improving, of course. For example, the MHAST offices are fully open and the agency continues to offer support and other services, even a safe space to stay in a crisis,  as it has through the start of the virus outbreak last year.

MHAST can offer advice, referrals to services and other guidance.  For information go to www.mhast.org or call (607) 771-8888 and for support or someone to talk to anytime, the peer-run Warm Line is available 24/7 at (607) 240-7291.

Southern Tier Close Up is heard Sunday at 6 a.m. on 99.1 The Whale.

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