Instagram, NAMI team up to support those facing fear, uncertainty during COVID-19 pandemic

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MILWAUKEE -- With many of us spending more time at home because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the pandemic has caused many of us to turn to social media. It's not just a way to escape, it's also a way to find support.

Anxiety, uncertainty and fear are all being discussed.

A partnership between Instagram and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is helping folks connect to critical resources as lives are altered by the coronavirus.

Dr. Ken Duckworth

"We are facing the unknowns and some people are facing job loss and economic disruptions. Some people are starting to experience grief," Dr. Ken Duckworth said.

Duckworth -- a psychiatrist and NAMI's chief medical officer -- says the organization has received a record number of calls from people trying to navigate this experience and therapists are providing lots of help with telehealth.

"People are feeling this and people are seeking help and seeking support," Duckworth said. "Younger people are important because three-quarters of all mental health challenges begin under the age of 25."

And with a 70% increase in Instagram use just within this last week in the U.S., Carolyn Merrell -- global head of policy programs at Instagram -- said getting people to relate and rely on each other is key right now.

Carolyn Merrell

"We think it's really important to be working with these public figures in this space people that young people really look up to so they can see who they are modeling this behavior and normalize this conversation to realize they are not alone," Merrell said.

The hope is that, by sharing and working through experiences, we can all get through this together.

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