ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTW) – Experts say mental health issues are getting worse nationwide, including here in the Carolinas. Some groups report a 56% increase in anxiety and depression.

Dr. Eva Meekins, nursing director at Robeson Community College, has experience as a psychiatric and mental health nurse. She said the increase in mental health issues is a result of the pandemic.

“We actually have seen an uptick in patients actually being admitted with mental health disorders,” Meekins said.

Meekins said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on some people’s mental health in many ways. She said all too many have felt the pain of being isolated from friends and family, adding that those numbers increased in 2020.

“Forty-two percent of people in December experienced or reported that they experienced a change in their mental health,” Meekins said. “That is according to the U.S Census Bureau and that could be something as simple as anxiety, depression.”

Mental health issues were also seen in young adults Meekins said.

“Eighteen to 24-year-olds, and when we look at that group, they are reporting increases in anxiety and depression,” Meekins said. “So sometimes it is not your more serious mental health issues, it can be something as simple as a change they are experiencing in anxiety and depression, and that number was up to 56%. That is a huge number.”

Robeson Community College has launched a new psychiatric technician program to train students who want to enter the mental health field.

“We really needed some type of course that would allow our students to work in the mental health industry and be able to get that certification so that they can help the community,” Meekins said.

If you would like to learn about the program and how you can sign up, click here. Students will be accepted into the program until Sept. 29.