A highlight from Coronavirus Conversations: The mental health impacts of reopening society

PRI's The World


Health and the pandemic harrison the pandemics affecting nearly every aspect of how we live how we work how we play. Some impacts have been visible mask-wearing social distance saying but many things aren't like the psychological toll in the us. We've moved from fearing a virus that has left more than six hundred thousand people dead to having a vaccination and campaigns that provide some hope that we might return to some sense of pre pandemic normalcy. I least in this country right now. Of course the global rollout is a different story so to begin with this conversation about the mental health impacts of the pandemic and reopening of society. Are we fooling ourselves right now as we try to move into this post hand right now. How are you viewing this given your lens of looking and studying at mental health. Thank you for the question for covering mess When when thing. I for my personal point of view. It's been really I've studied mental health in in trauma post traumatic stress. My you know my whole career but it's such a different experience studying the thing that you are living through yourself so a lot of it in my own experience as well as research. Guess the way. I like to think about this time. You say are we ourselves. Is that Were all we've all gone through a tremendous amount of change in straps this past year. with Locked all the things you mentioned in lockdowns and changes in the way we work every aspect of our lives and now we're being asked to change back. He bull are being told to have been home. You need you have to go back to work often. There's reese recent many companies that recent days that even people who had to work through this out of their home the whole time other aspects of their lives have changed In terms of whether it's around seeing family members or other kinds of activities or things that their kids are doing. So it's a time of tremendous change in. It's good to remind ourselves at all changes stressful though even in what i call the prior time before kobe. Just things like getting married or buying your dream home of you've ever moved to any job that you're excited about even those things are tremendously stressful. So it's not about much fooling ourselves as just being aware that we are going through all these changes and we'll it'll impact all of us differently but We all experienced some kind of stress on top of what we've already experienced. Thus i guess sixteen months now so. This is a stressful moment. Stressful moment yes. It's a good moment is a stressful moment. Is it a momentary stressful moment. That's a good question. I think. I know i think it will the change. Because we've been in experiencing. Kobe froder sixteen seventeen months depending on. What part of massachusetts is definitely been since early march on in weeds adopted. In whatever way we have It's gonna take time to get back so it expected to be Sort of the change in the stressful last so for example. Because now we're in the summer months but will be transitioning back to school which will be another for example for kids and that will be another all. The schools are facing. What do we do or in a different period. How do we change things. Which means they'll be changes on kids in parents and teachers and So that's just one example of how this will be ongoing workplaces have adopted in are trying to figure out what to do camps Family's planning get together. So i think it's not something. We can turn around overnight for certain. I want to ask about kids actually to kick things off. Children and adolescents have experienced really specific challenges during the pandemic as you're saying from school closures to a loss of plan social time. A recent brief from the kaiser family foundation found that more than a quarter of high school students reported worsened emotional and cognitive health. During the pandemic and at lgbtq youth and children of color may be particularly vulnerable. How do we help people children in particular. And how has your understanding of these impacts evolved over the pandemic. that's a great question They wish they had all all the answers but So a couple of things we've learned over the pandemic is while we were very focused. Which made sense an in public health in elsewhere on the on the virus in protecting ourselves from the virus in different ways whether wearing a mass or staying home in the beginning of disinfecting everything The in terms of people's mental health. What people report. The biggest impact are things like the other. Stressors are experiences which are almost like the second secondary to the virus so it can be things like exactly what you said. Schools being closed changes in economic circumstances. You know changes in other For the child care for parents and things like that And i think that is something similarly. That's true for kids. I think as much as Education has really tried to step up and offer online. And try to adopt. I think what we've learned is there's really no replacing In in person contact between kids kids teachers and that You know in many places especially our public. Schools were inadequately resource to really meet the challenges. And it's not. I don't have all the answers in how we can address this. But one thing i think we have to be careful is. We can't ignore it and just sort of pretend like Return like kids haven't been affected in that give if even if you're older kids are vaccinated that everything's fine on the other thing is. We can't just expect the schools to deal with kids mental health without additional resources to do so and nor leave it to just two parents to sort out so one would expect increased need for special education services and things on the learning side but also whether the What is what's available on social emotional side for supporting kids. That differs from school district but It it's gonna there's gonna be a big need that has to be addressed for sure. I want to As having this kind of general part of the conversation and many questions have come in from listeners already but just moving to adults there's been reports of lots of people leaving their jobs about health workers especially burning out from all of this. What are we learning about. The pandemics impact on work and how that breaks down. Yeah that's a great question. I think one of the things we're learning is that there especially noticed in healthcare people burned out and feeling

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