Supporting mental health through the pandemic year

April 5, 2021
Easing back into the classroom

As the pandemic set in last year and protests for racial justice filled the headlines, Penn GSE counseling lecturer Ariane Thomas noticed a trend in her private counseling practice. Clients who she hadn’t heard from in years started reaching out.

They needed to talk.

“I think certainly the pandemic, and the racial unrest from last summer and continuing, and the stress of having to have some conversations around the racial unrest and the racial issues … Having to sit down and have those conversations has been quite demanding on our emotional resources,” Thomas told WHYY as part of a look its One Year of COVID: Lost and Found series.

“In the past, there have been plenty of people who have reached out simply for wellness and maintenance, or just because they wanted the opportunity to process work stress. Now, all of those things are still real and true, but the stressors and the symptoms that people are experiencing are exacerbated by the pandemic, the racial unrest, the intensity of the election, and the way the election dragged on, and the fallout since the election, the attack on voting rights. It feels like it hasn’t quite let up. And as a result, neither has the request for support.”

Thomas also recounted how the last year forced her to change her approach to self-care.

“I had to ask for help and get some good things from other people. I had to ask for support. I had to ask for guidance when it came to some of my more challenging cases, and seek consultation on those. That’s the ethical and responsible thing that I needed to do as a professional. And I did it. And I also needed to do it as a human being.” 

Read the full WHYY piece here.


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