GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- May is mental health awareness month.

According to a study released this month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 27% more adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic in 2020 compared to 2019.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, with Bon Secours St, Francis Health, 7 News’ Taylor Murray spoke with a psychiatrist who shares tips on caring for your mental health during the ongoing pandemic.

Feeling anxious, confused, overwhelmed, or powerless is common during an infectious disease outbreak such as Covid-19.

“We have seen an increased demand for mental health services during the pandemic.”

Dr. Carson Felkel / Psychiatrist & System Medical Director of Behavioral Health, Bon Secours St. Francis health

Psychiatrist Dr. Carson Felkel says even if you aren’t at high risk of getting sick, feelings of distress and anxiety can still occur from the stressors associated with the pandemic.

“From job insecurity, relationships, loneliness.”

He says if you aren’t feeling like yourself, it’s important to reach out for help.

“If you feel like it’s been two or three weeks and you’re just in this deep dark hole… that’s when you need to talk to your primary care provider.”

Your primary care provider can refer you to the right specialist to meet your needs.

“Sometimes that can be a licensed professional counselor or a social worker trained in clinical psychology and therapy. I’m a psychiatrist, which means that I can do therapy and prescribe medications for depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.”

Dr. Felkel says after you’ve reached out to your doctor first for help, then there are things you can do at home to boost your mood.

“That might be meditation, mindfulness, walking, eating well, getting restorative sleep.”

If you or someone you love are experiencing a mental health crisis or struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 9-1-1 immediately.

A National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255(TALK).

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.