HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s being called the second pandemic: the wave of mental illness now being seen since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

Now Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living has a new campaign called “Make every day a mental health day.” The institute is under the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.

The numbers are eye opening. As many as one in five adults in the U.S. will experience a mental health condition in a given year.

“Now more than ever we know there’s a lot of people who’ve been hurting. It’s been a struggle and a slog over the course of the past two years and beyond,” said Dr. Javeed Sukhera, chair of psychiatry at the Institute of Living.

This weekend, they are holding their signature, sold-out Black & Red event, a major fundraiser celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Institute of Living.

“The pandemic really has disrupted so many things for so many people,” Sukhera said.

He said it has been stressful with a sense of sheer vulnerability.

“With more people reaching out, asking for help and the recognition that what we have currently as a system isn’t quite meeting the needs that it should be.”

Before the pandemic, nearly half of Americans had a “diagnosable mental health condition” in their lifetime. Now that could be much higher.

Sukhera said the Institute of Living has the state’s largest group of child and adolescent psychiatrists, with many programs, inpatient and outpatient. He said the institute is now hard at work, reimagining and strengthening services to meet those growing needs of the community.