Mental Health Awareness Month addresses overdose deaths during pandemic

Local News

Source: AP Newsroom

PHARR, Texas — Although COVID-19 dominated the media in the past year, a rising epidemic got worse.

According to insurance data company, American overdose deaths increased by nearly 27% between 2019 and 2020. In Texas, overdose fatalities rose by 34.2% year over year.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related public health issues, mental health is something to be taken care of year-round.

“Everyone’s feeling the stress, everyone’s looking for that tool to help them deal with it, and a lot of people are turning to or increasing their consumption of drugs,” says Janese Mason, a counselor with Fueling Hope in Weslaco, a treatment program under Behavioral Health Solutions (BHS). “Triggers such as mental or financial distress went way up in 2020, and we see increased drug use as a common coping strategy. Unfortunately with the increased use of drugs there comes the increased risk of overdose or death. Substance use and mental disorders share many of the same risk factors and we want to make sure we address those risk factors as part of our treatment program.”

BHS said they offer outpatient treatment services to adults and youth struggling with substance use and addiction.

For more information on services for adults, call Fueling Hope at (956) 447-0223, ext. 12 or email

For more information on services for youth, call Monarch at (956) 787-7111, ext. 298 or email

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