Dickinson, N.D. (KXNET) — Since the pandemic, rates of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder have increased according to The National Institutes of Health. And while the overall calls for criminal misconduct have been decreasing in Dickinson, the number of welfare checks are rising, and DPD believes this is the after affect of the pandemic.
The pandemic kept many families apart, causing a lot of concern about their loved ones. Police have taken many calls about welfare checks in the last few years, and the calls are still on the rise even after the pandemic.
“We’ve been responding to a significant amount of suicidal threats, suicidal attempts,” said Dickinson Police Lieutenant Mike Hanel.
Hanel says officers responded to 845 welfare checks in 2022, 744 welfare checks so far this year, and 94 of them this year were just in the last month.
“It certainly does seem like it’s more pervasive than it has been in years past,” said Hanel.
Unlike the majority of welfare checks done in the last week, four of those were suicidal threats for Dickinson citizens.
“I think anyone working for a law enforcement agency or in my position would certainly make that connection that the pandemic was the catalyst that seems to have had the increase in the amount of our mental health responses that we’ve been doing,” Hanel explained.
Hanel says, although it may seem like a high number of calls, “I look at that as a positive that people are no longer afraid of the stigma that’s associated with mental health, they’re seeking out that help,” he said.
Hanel also says they’ve partnered up with mental health facilities to provide help whenever there is a call, to help decrease those numbers.