Mental Health In This Time of Crisis

By Jessica Brown, MS, LPC, NCC

Moving into and through a global pandemic brings out a lot of feelings – surprise, confusion, fear, anxiety, stress, curiosity, questioning, and anger. We see you, we hear you, and we want to meet you in your moment.

In a time of crisis, survival comes first for so many and raises a lot of questions. Will I have a job next week? Am I healthy right now? How can I stay healthy? How will I pay rent tomorrow? Some have been relatively unaffected by COVID-19, while some have had their family dramatically changed. But we all have grieved. We grieve our sense of normal, our job prospects, our children’s school years, our interventionist’s weekly visits, our health, our loved ones – and that is just the tip of the iceberg for many. As a mental health professional, learning about my own response was the first step. How am I going to view this challenge? It is a work in progress. The year 2020 brought upon us a new world of struggle, and this struggle, no matter the viewpoint, will be with us for a long time to come. But the good news is we are in this journey together.

Where do we go next? Look for the strength, the resilience, the hope. We have to acknowledge, grieve, and remember what we have lost (and for some, what was taken from them) but to build our resilience, we have to also look at what our future can hold for us. As adults, parents, neighbors, and role models, our self-care and resilient perspective can help us breathe and focus on our relationships. Real, positive relationships are our saving grace. Love yourself, your family, your community; use your faith, your spirituality, your releases; reach out for the resources you need and find your base so you can cope. Supporting each other, connecting, checking in, and knowing when to ask for help: these are all hard things at times, but so essential to all of us. Allow yourself to have a breakdown (or five) when you need it – because we are all just human.

Our role in Early Intervention has changed dramatically, and we’ve had to learn a new way of helping. It is amazing to think of how our interventionists have adapted in so many ways! Despite stress and challenges, we’ve been given the opportunity to reflect on what our Early Intervention families need, as well as what our personal families at home need. The spectrum is wide; confidence, comfort levels, and anxiety levels can all vary, and our strengths and weaknesses are coming out. The prospect of moving back to traveling to our clients is slowly on the radar. Some of us are restrictive or hesitant for a multitude of important reasons, as are some of our clients, and the ability to use teleintervention has become a priority and asset to coaching parents in their family needs. Finding strengths while learning limitations supports progress, in Early Intervention and beyond.

Lancaster County has been blessed with so many early childhood professionals that are learning to thrive in this new chapter of serving our community, and we hope you all continue with us on this journey. Early Intervention is running strong, and our arms remain open! To access Early Intervention in Lancaster County, please call 717-735-1547 for a free eligibility evaluation should you have any concerns about your child (birth to age 3) and their development.

If you, or a family member or friend, are struggling during this time, mental health resources are still available in our community; they may just look differently than we are accustomed to. Services for adults, children, and families are out there. Many can be offered via telehealth, and insurance companies have exercised flexibility in coverage so they can be accessed easier. Contact your primary doctor, your Early Intervention Support Coordinator, your interventionist, the United Way (211 or 855-567-5341), or Mental Health America of Lancaster County (717-397-7461) – those resources are just a start.

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