“Especially now during the pandemic, it can become very easy for people to try to diminish or devalue the experience that they’re having compared to someone else’s. You may not have COVID but you’re still living in the reality of that fear and all of these different disruptions in our life,” Shaw said. “So it’s really, really important to validate that what you’re experiencing — no matter what other people are experiencing — is real and the first step to addressing those and healing from them is naming them and owning them.”

The coalition’s goal during the pandemic has been to show that, though community members may be apart, they are not alone.

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“Validating one another’s experience can be a really powerful, positive force in helping people to find the supports they need so that we can all heal through this together and move forward and take care of ourselves,” Shaw said.

She explained that anxiety and depressive disorders have more than tripled nationally since the beginning of the pandemic as a result of new challenges like increased isolation, disruption of routines, loss and grief — not only for those who have died, but also for a past way of life — and fear for safety and security.

According to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in late June, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse. Of those, nearly 11% reported having seriously considered suicide in the prior month, more than twice the number of such reports from all of 2018. These reports were higher among those aged 18-24 years, minority racial and ethnic groups, unpaid caregivers and essential workers.