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Riots add to stressors

Riots add to stressors Riots add to stressors
Sandra Schiele, Counsel House

Many of my patients at Counsel House, where I practice as a behavioral health specialist, have focused on the recent riots. Emotions are still heightened. I’m not sure that this approach to being heard, though, was well received by some.

Pushing and demanding only does the opposite. It may give what appears to be equality and acceptance, but it deepens resentment and divide. My patients varied in their support for some of the historical changes that have been recommended.

The removal of confederate monuments was met with understanding but also resentment as it removes a huge part of our country’s history, as though to try to deny the challenges our nation has faced through the centuries. Others argue that a swastika wouldn’t be acceptable so why should a confederate flag.

Is this a distraction from the stress of the pandemic, an opportunity to exploit opinions during a national crisis or just another way to avoid dealing with the true underlying behavioral health issues? Perhaps it’s a combination of all.

I have had to redirect many of these conversations to what my patients are truly feeling: fear and anger. The longer the country remains closed, the more pronounced these symptoms become.

As we re-open though, I believe we will return to old behaviors which didn’t consist of social distancing, frequent hand washing or the wearing of face masks. I believe people are on edge and eager to return to a sense of normalcy. Government leaders urge a “new normal,” but I believe it’s human nature to become lax with the safeguards that have been in place since March. It’s like getting a speeding ticket, slowing down for a few weeks, forgetting the “sting” felt by the ticket and then resuming a faster driving speed.

Yet, the closures can’t continue.

While I urge my patients to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, many do not. They have continued to visit other friends and family members, usually don’t wear face masks and have been vacationing to the beaches the last few weeks. This is a result of feeling trapped and bored.

When the green light is given for a slow re-opening, it’s met with extreme indulgences by some. Again, the law-abiding individuals who have weathered this with optimism and obedience, express their anger toward those who do not.

The fear of contracting this virus is very real for some of my patients. When we add all the other stressors and now riots that have gone on for weeks, we will begin to see that even the law-abiding folks may illustrate acts of frustration, such as anger directed verbally to someone in the check-out line who isn’t remaining six feet away.

Despite all of this, if we continue to practice patience, acceptance, understanding, compassion and healthy coping skills, I still maintain that we will prevail as a nation.

Stay safe, stay positive; we will get through this together. If we can be of assistance to you or a loved one, contact us at 812-738-3277 or via email at [email protected]. You can also access free mental health resources for Hoosiers, endorsed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, at