Virus’ first-wave effects on behavioral health continues
Sandra Schiele, Counsel House
We have entered our second week of tele-health at Counsel House (owned by Terry Lawton), where I practice as a licensed behavioral health specialist. Online school has begun. Parents are concerned as they don’t know what to expect. Many are not used to the required structure and patience this will entail.
Setting a schedule with specific times and activities will help reassure children they are safe. Despite most children’s negative response to structure, it is what they crave and need. Write this down and post it so all the family is aware. Create this schedule together so that each person has input. This will increase the likelihood of its success as you will have obtained more buy-in during the initial stages of execution.
For some families, this means more time spent together without having the emotional outlets of personal space and alone time. Others are feeling more isolated as they don’t have the social interaction they once did. Spikes in depression, moodiness, irritability, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, hypersomnia, substance abuse and changes in eating habits are resulting as the reality of the pandemic sets in.
The toilet paper puns continue but with a little more resentment at the core. Seeing empty store shelves, face masks, gloves and social distancing gives a feeling of unrest. When items in our environment change, whether positive or negative, increases in anxiety result. We need a certain level of predictability in order to feel safe and secure.
Some are realizing the financial implications of months to come. Lives are becoming more black and white as to what we should and shouldn’t be doing. People are feeling a lack of control. This is normal.
Allow your children to grieve. For many, this was their senior year. They are missing out on such things as prom and graduation. Encourage your children to talk about their feelings of loss. Then, come up with one positive thing in which each of you are grateful.
Give each other alone time. Limit the amount of time spent reading updates about the virus. In addition to one to two family game nights, implement a daily “check-in” with one another. Each morning, as part of the written schedule, ask how each is feeling, what the plans are for that ONE day and what is needed from each person for that ONE day to make it a positive one. Focus on “just today.”
This is temporary. We aren’t helpless. We can do our part. We need to follow the instructions given to reduce the spread of the virus, keep up with our daily responsibilities, realize some days are better than others and continue with behavioral health appointments.
Many providers continue to accept new patients so, even if you have never considered counseling, know that this is available.
If we can be of assistance to you or a loved one, contact us at 812-738-3277 or via email at [email protected]
For 24/7 crisis and information services, you can also call Louisville’s Hope Now Hotline at 1-800-221-0446.