The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health, but it's also put a strain on those resources. And the holiday season can be a difficult time for those dealing with depression and anxiety. 

"This is a time of year where there's a lot of grief that might come up," said Nora Ann Brucklacher, Clinical Director of Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group. "During the holidays, there's a lot of nostalgia, a lot of reminiscing, and memories really flood in. So for those that are feeling grief at this point in the year, that can be exacerbated going into the holiday season."

Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group in Midtown Reno is expanding, adding more therapists and outpatient services at a time Northern Nevada is losing inpatient services with the closure of West Hills Behavioral Health Hospital next month. There's already a shortage of mental health professionals in the state, and access to mental health care here is among the worst in the country.

"The truth of it is, we are in a mental health crisis any way you look at it, and Nevada is very far behind when you look at those mental health numbers," Brucklacher said. "We are, unfortunately, number one in the entire nation for the elderly suicide rate. The truth of it is, we can do better. And because of that, what I would ask is that our council members and those that organize here as far as funding goes, to really look at how we can help support the mental health crisis in the community. With the closure of West Hills, it is a blow, however, I do believe resources are available and hopefully it will get better and better in the years to come."

Right now, she says, if you need help, it's important to be proactive.

"There are probably some waiting lists at this point, so get on one of those waiting lists, get in wherever you possibly can," Brucklacher said. "Don't wait until it's a crisis. Once it's in that place of emergency, that's when people start to really have that crumbling effect. So if you know you're headed in that direction, or you need some of that added support, then reach out right then and there."

She says family members and friends can play a key role for those who are struggling.

"You can always ask a friend for help," she said. "I've had situations where somebody said, 'I don't have the bandwidth to be able to do this myself, can you help me get set up.?' And so the friend reached out on behalf of them and were able to get them set up, get all the logistics sorted out, and that person came in and began their services. So I'm very grateful for that village, it takes a village."

Local Mental Health Resources:

Reno Behavioral Healthcare Hospital: https://www.renobehavioral.com/

Carson Tahoe Behavioral Health Services: https://www.carsontahoe.com/behavioral-health-services.html

Willow Springs Center: https://willowspringscenter.com/