COVID-19 hit North Texas in March when Dallas issued a shelter-in-place order on 3/22/2020. It was followed by a state-wide order from Gov. Gregg Abbott on March 31. Each of us may have told ourselves “I’ve got this,” thinking that the restrictions would be short-term, after which life would return to normal. The mandates were intended to curb the rise in viral infections, but the virus is not abating and restrictions that would allow people to return to work continue. Confinement at home, contracting the disease, and income loss are just a few of the stressors North Texans are experiencing right now. Nearly half of North Texas adults who sheltered in place from March to June said the pandemic negatively affected their mental health, according to a report from the nonprofit Mental Health Connection. Among those most susceptible to COVID-19-related mental illness are older adults suffering cognitive decline or who experienced health stressors before the pandemic. Yet this group is not singularly affected. Parents of school-age children, front-line workers, healthcare providers, essential workers, hospitality workers–just to name a few–are showing signs of COVID-19-related emotional and mental despair that may have a long-term impact on their health.
Since late March, nonprofits and state public health organizations have published web-pages listing resources for North Texans looking for COVID-related mental health care. Many such sites ask users to take screening tests on their websites, instruct people to call the national disaster or suicide prevention hotlines, or just provide general self-care advice. Yet, most of these resources don’t connect users to a counselor. While these resources can help, those looking for personalized, long-term assistance can easily be frustrated.
Some people, who would want counseling, don’t seek it because of perceived barriers. Some of these barriers include:
- Too expensive
- Embarrassment or shame of needed therapy
- Lack of insurance
- Time commitment
- Concern over exposure to viral infection
- Don’t know how to find the right therapist for one’s situation
Each of these barriers can be dealt with better than avoiding the consequences of ignoring your mental health. Over the next few weeks, I plan to post an article to explore each of these myths . I hope that it will help you find what Vincent Van Gogh described as ‘the peace within the storm.” The sixth barrier, I addressed in an article several years ago. It comes with a worksheet to help you in the search for the right counselor. It is called: Choosing a Counselor that’s right for you. Click on the link and download it for your use.