Mental health responses to COVID-19 offered

Cathy Decker Correspondent
Kurt Doyle

ALEDO — Genesis Health Group members Chantelle Peterson, nurse practitioner, and Kurt Doyle, licensed clinical social worker, are two professionals who may be seeing more clients during the recent novel coronavirus pandemic. The health group office is located at 1007 NW 3rd Street, Aledo.

Doyle points to several factors that can cause stress including the “Stay-at-home” mandate and loss of jobs.

“These two things can cause fear, anxiety and anger,” he said. There is also a grief response with immediate family members being cut off from extended family and friends.

He recommends that individuals speak up and speak out.

“Talk about your feelings, do self-care, take care of your diet and exercise,” he said. He said using programs like Skype and Zoom can put people in contact with others, both which have no cost options available on the internet.

Sending letters, post cards are also viable alternatives for communication.

“Frustration, feelings and fear are a lot of what I’m dealing with here in the clinic,” Doyle said. Individuals sometimes feel silly wearing a mask. Putting on gloves is another alternative. “Whatever you think will keep you safe. I do see a lot more teenagers and college students.”

Chantelle Peterson is a firm believer in both physical and behavioral health. She sees herself as a patient and community advocate.

“I believe in developing strong therapeutic relationships and working together to achieve person-centered goals,” she said.

She has not necessarily noticed any significant increase in the number of individuals coming in for counseling, but “there has been a lot more anxiety with the (COVID-19) sickness for my current clients.”

She said financial stresses are on the rise due to being out of a job, waiting for a check to arrive, getting groceries — just a few of the pressures out there.

Some of her suggestions include taking advantage of grocery delivery services or taking a daily walk to relieve anxiety. “This is a temporary thing. It’s a part of today’s life. It may never necessarily be the same as before,” she added.

Having children home all the time due to school closure is another thing causing concerns. Parents are being asked to be teachers, she said. She sees a lot more requests for having children tested for ADHD. “A lot of togetherness does cause stress in the family.”

Parents have fewer resources than teachers. Parents generally did not grow up using computers or Chromebooks and had no experience with “social media.”

She does spend time with her clients reassuring them that they are not alone. “It’s okay to be struggling with teaching their children,” she said.