Mental Health Expert: ‘Hopeful' 2021

NBCUniversal, Inc.

2020 has no doubt been a challenging year.

Levels of anxiety and feelings of loneliness have increased for many people,

A mental health expert spoke with NBC 5 about looking ahead to a new year with a hopeful heart.

“It seems like COVID-19 has been that ever-present villain, if we could characterize it as such,” said Awstin Gregg, CEO of counseling services provider Connections Wellness Group in Dallas and Denton. “It has kind of stolen our routine, stolen in some degree our control, our happiness at times.”

But for every villain, there are heroes, he said.

Those everyday heroes of 2020.

“Those who wake up every day and learn new skills like teaching from home,” said Gregg. “I don’t think we have taken an appropriate pause just to give ourselves a little bit of credit because through our own perseverance is why we’re here and I think that’s a story of heroes and that’s who I would close 2020."

Gregg urges the public to seek out signs of hope in 2021, some of which are already visible like the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

The idea of ‘rebounds in the community’ give him hope.

But he cautions against the notion that the new year will bring immediate improvements.

“We still have to walk up a mountain that does still exist, but I think the influence and the momentum perhaps is walking up toward a solution rather than wondering just how deep does the depth go of COVID-19 and the stress that came in 2020,” said Gregg.

Taking time for your mental health is key. Goals are encouraged, as are controllable tasks.

“It is taking the time to cook healthy meals when applicable. It’s disconnecting from social media and turning off the phone and spending time with loved ones,” he added.

Connections Wellness Group experienced an increase in people coming forward in 2020 with heightened levels of anxiety and depression.

“If you’re feeling that way, you are not alone,” said Gregg. “There are services designed to take that away,”

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