Following the Democalypse of last week, some parts of the country i.e. every city are going through major anxiety crises and deep depressions while other parts of the country basically everywhere that isn't a city are doing just fine, and/or celebrating. Naturally San Francisco is up there among places where a vast majority of the population has been pretty apoplectic over this for the last ten days and we're all still trying to talk ourselves down off the proverbial ledge. For those with mental health issues or just more volatile psyches, the situation has been even worse, and the ledges less proverbial and in the case of one mentally ill woman on BART last week, it led to a racist outburst that, unfortunately for her and her family, went viral. Now Hoodline has spoken to people who work at a couple of mental health hotlines in the Bay Area to put some hard numbers to what they've seen over the last week and a half. And, indeed, people are going through it.
SFist also spoke to a couple of mental health professionals about what they were seeing in the days following the election. One, Erick Hung, Director of the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at UCSF, says that in any nationally charged moment like this there will be an uptick in patients acting out in anger, or exhibiting avoidance behaviors.
Dr. Michael Enenbach, an Associate Professor in UCLA's Department of Psychiatry specializing in children and teens, tells us, "I've generally seen people without psychiatric diagnoses with greater anxiety over the past year, mostly because of the uncertainty about the election. Those with previously diagnosed disorders, particularly anxiety and depression, have had a heightening of these symptoms. This includes both adults and children." He adds, "Kids not only pick up on the anxieties of adults around them but are also much more aware of world events thanks to social medial and the internet. In California in particular, kids are worried that their friends or family may be deported and have been greatly affected by the harsh rhetoric of the election."
Libby Craig, the Bay Area director for Crisis Text Line, a text-based crisis hotline service, tells Hoodline that messages to the hotline doubled on election night and quadrupled the next day, and their text volume has been about 150 percent of normal since the election. Also, she noted that the word "scared" was one of the most used in the texts they've received, and "The most common association of the word 'scared' was with texters dealing with LGBTQ issues."
The same has been true at traditional crisis hotlines all over the country. Courtney Brown, hotline director at San Francisco Suicide Prevention, tells Hoodline their call volume went up 30 percent immediately after the election, a spike far higher than after the previous general election in 2012 and calls there actually decreased immediately after Obama's first election in 2008.
If you are in crisis, text "BAY" to 741741 for free, 24/7, confidential crisis support from Crisis Text Line. And if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, you or they should call the San Francisco Suicide Prevention crisis line at (415) 781-0500.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.