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Mental Health Awareness: Building Meaningful Connections in a Virtual World

May 4, 2021

Last May, the clinicians at Anchored Hope Therapy took the opportunity to reflect on what we now refer to as the beginning of the COVID pandemic. At the time, we were unaware that it would last as long as it has. Over the course of the last year, our team continues to pivot with determination, grace, and perseverance.

One of our clinicians, Sarah Mann, had this to say about the last year:

A year ago, I was overwhelmed and tired, forced to acknowledge the lack of control that I had. My artwork had heavy boundaries for safety, jagged edges, and division. It was not until January of this year that I began to create organic forms outside of a mandala with softer shades. As I reflect upon this journey, I can see growth and honest, meditative reflection on my 2020 experience. I am constantly reminded that I am a human first and a therapist second. It is important for my cup to be full so that I can be there for my clients while we continue to navigate the unknown. For me, this means minimal screen time outside of work. Telehealth was never a form of care I planned to use in my practice however I am thankful it has allowed me to continue to support my clients throughout the vast shifts in awareness we have faced together. I am eager to get back to safely co-creating with my clients. Until then, I will practice intentional gratitude for the virtual space we get to share. (Sarah Mann is responsible for the artwork that accompanies this blog post.)

Susie Cooper, another clinician at Anchored Hope, also took the opportunity to reflect on the last year:

Time flies by astonishingly fast. And yet when we are in turmoil it seems interminable. Many of us have survived over a year of a chaotic pandemic. And our hearts go out to those who experienced personal losses.  We have all experienced collective losses, of all types and forms.  And it is quite alright to acknowledge those losses, to feel the pain that heartache has been had.  And what about the joy; the joy of survival, the joy of new information and vaccines, the joy that we may have learned to look at the preciousness of our daily living methods anew.  How fruitful to endure and yet have space to contemplate lessons learned and new ways ahead.  And so, let us forge nascent modes of being in our personal lives, in our mental health, in our usage of golden time.  It is now Spring once again.  Over a year of Tele-health has not changed the larger landscape.  Birds are chirping and green has erupted everywhere.  We have this one life.  Let’s live it like a grass blade; upright, searching for sunlight, resilient in capacity to withstand the foot traffic of living. This year, our roots are deeper, stronger.  There is no time like the present to shine. We’ve got this!

Mental Health America recently released a report entitled “The State of Mental Health in America”. The statistics are both staggering and unsurprising. We all continue to manage amid concurrent pandemics. During this global health crisis and worldwide pandemic, mental health issues are at an all-time high. Acknowledging and dismantling systemic racism, balancing job and financial insecurity, processing grief and loss, working from home while balancing childcare/virtual learning, social isolation, and addiction are additional stressors we have endured not just this year, but are particularly at the forefront of our minds and experiences in the last year.

Often people wait until they are truly suffering to access care. We may not notice the need for support until we are in a place of despair, until we find ourselves functioning on autopilot and “going through the motions”. We are not taking the time to notice the need to attend to our mental state. Chronic stress and trauma also keep us in this state of “survival mode”, a state can feel like a life of putting out little fires.

Now, more than ever, we need to find ways to make our mental health a priority. One way to do this may be to slow down and check in with yourself more frequently. To pay attention to the signs that we may be languishing, even if we are successfully making it through the day, working, and taking care of ourselves and our families. Pausing can feel foreign. It can feel like you do not deserve it for fear that things will fall apart if you take a break.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This month, and EVERY month, we strive to highlight the importance of attending to not only your physical health but also your emotional health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) continues to deliver the message that “You Are Not Alone” for 2021’s mental health awareness month and we passionately believe in this message as well. We are available to offer support and help you put your mental health first in a way that honors the courage it takes to ask for help as well as acknowledging needs through a lens of competence and humility.

At Anchored Hope Therapy, we believe that our clients are the experts of their own experiences. We do our best to act as guides to support client healing in a way that honors who they are, where they come from, and how they identify. We consider ourselves privileged to witness this healing. We are committed to acknowledging what we do not know and working towards improving the care we provide to our clients to ensure it is accessible, authentic, and free from bias.

Every struggle is real. Asking for help is not weakness.

Acknowledging that “things are not fine” and facing vulnerability takes courage.

If you or someone you know needs help, we are here. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is interested in a consultation or an appointment, please contact Anchored Hope Therapy at info@anchoredhopetherapy.com or 443-291-8090.

To read the full report cited in the above blog post, please visit the Mental Health America website at The State of Mental Health in America | Mental Health America (mhanational.org).

For more information on NAMI’s movement to raise awareness, please visit Mental Health Month | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

written by

Christine Coyle

Christine is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-C) and co-founder of Anchored Hope Therapy, LLC. She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Widener University. Christine’s work has focused on implementing evidence-based and trauma-informed treatment to help children, families and adults cope with traumatic stress.
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