Stressors that have built up over the past few years are being acknowledged as the region sees an increase in demand for mental health and addiction services.
The director of fund development and communications for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) of Lambton-Kent said in speaking with frontline staff, they've noticed an increase in "complex cases."
"We're seeing an increase, of course, in substance use as well and we're continuing to see a high demand for our psychotherapy programs -- both cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy," said Andria Appeldoorn.
She also said more people are opting for in-person services now rather than virtual care.
Appeldoorn said people are dealing with a lot that has happened over the past few years, from the pandemic to the rising cost of living and increase in homelessness.
"Coming out of it, having been through so much stress, I think we're now paying the price for all of the things that we had to do over the course of the pandemic," said Appeldoorn.
There has also been an increase in family conflict.
CMHA Lambton-Kent provides support for those 16 and up, including geriatric programs.
"Mental illness often presents before a person is 30 years old so the earlier we can support them, the better their outcomes can be," she said.
Bell Let's Talk Day is on Wednesday, January 25. Appeldoorn said the initiative helps to increase awareness and reduce the stigma.
"Fifteen years ago, people did not talk about their anxiety and their depression in the same way that they do now," she said. "In today's world having a mental illness is the same, for many people, as having a physical [ailment]. if you break your arm, there's nothing to be ashamed about. If you need support for your mental health, there's lots of places to reach out for now."
Appeldoorn said one thing the CMHA is encouraging during Bell Let's Talk Day is to do something that supports mental health, whether that means learning about an organization, reaching out to a friend, or doing something that classifies as self-care.
In Sarnia-Lambton, the CMHA's first response service is available 24/7 at 1800-307-4319 and the Chatham-Kent line is 1-866-299-7447. Further details about CMHA can be found by clicking here.