CEUnits Blog

What we are learning: Pandemic and mental health

September 12th, 2021

Headlines keep telling us we are living through “unprecedented times”, and when you have the weight of a job like mental health provider on your shoulders, that doesn’t make things easy.

This is a profession that heavily relies on precedent informing best practice.

Reports and research, supported by extensive data can compel vital support from stakeholders as well as give patients the confidence to seek treatment.

The current state of the world has seen more people asking for help; but we are also living through a more challenging time to offer help.

Mental health in the United States 2021

During the world events of 2020 and 2021, Americans have reported higher levels of mental health issues, including stress and anxiety, as well as substance abuse.  This was directly linked to fear of job loss, uncertainty around finances and isolation, as well as concerns about their health and safety and that of family and community.

In conjunction with this uncertainty, and increased stress, the institutions and support networks many individuals rely on were also experiencing closures or changes in operation.

Doing the best with the information we have

How can past learnings better help us prepare to support our clients? Mental health professionals have had to shift the way they work. We reached out to more than 20,000 mental health professionals in the United States to see what they were challenged by; and what they learn to appreciate during the 2020-2021 period.

An 80% of respondents shared they had been impacted throughout 2020-2021 (the survey took place in August, 2021 and we are still collecting results), by Covid-19.

This included having to shift to working remotely (replacing face to face interactions), and the challenges of learning to provide therapy online. One respondent explained how they had to change treatment models because they found EMDR was not effective, in a remote environment.

Identifying and adapting to challenges

40% of respondents said they found working remotely challenging. Working remotely means disengaging from colleagues, routine, normal working environment as well as the way we service our clients or patients. In many cases it can mean work invading home-life through a computer screen, with boundaries becoming blurred. In some instances busy family life can mean competing priorities with home-school children and negotiating space with spouses. In other instances loneliness and isolation, for those who live solo, can be problematic.

Alan Webber, LICSW, Outpatient Psychotherapist, who is based in Massachusetts, said “differing schedules, within the family, impacted work”.

Close to half of all respondents shared similar experiences. Can you relate? Add your own experience here.

Data tells a story

Insights right now are preliminary and still being collected while we move through the pandemic. We know how important data is in healthcare.

Our research, and other research we are seeing largely too preliminary to create actionable insights. We can still learn from research and coursework created prior to the pandemic though.

In this panel discussion from 2019, the participants talk about the powerful role of data in shaping our jobs, service footprint and gaining vital funds from donors. Want to learn more about research, metrics and data? Try this course.

Video: In this panel discussion quality of life and recovery capital, as well as cost-effectiveness and achievements. Achievements include further education, for example if people in recovery pursue high school diplomas or university degrees.

How did continuing education change in the pandemic?

Most survey participants reported feeling more fulfilled by their jobs. Challenges with time management and disrupting schedules can make ongoing education a challenge. Register now for your next CE Units course.


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