Clients who were not previously in economic distress may now be out of work and need to be guided to resources to help cover basic needs. Despite the unemployment rate falling to 13.3 percent and 2.5 million jobs being added in May, being aware of opportunities and resources for your clients can be an essential step in their recovery. (Bayly, 2020) Couples who were often arguing before coronavirus may now have entered into the territory of physical abuse. You need to assess for and know domestic violence protocols, social service resources, and information for COVID testing centers near you.
Telehealth platforms like Zoom, Skype, Facetime, or Microsoft Teams have provided a beacon of hope for many in these challenging times. If you have not moved to provide services through telehealth, now might be the time. HIPAA relaxed regulations to allow providers and clients to reach each other by more accessible means. Even when the HIPAA regulations return to normal, the need for telehealth options won’t expire. Individuals who are considered high-risk will most likely need to continue physical distancing for an undetermined amount of time, and the risk of any “second wave” could also extend the need for virtual appointments.
Increase Multicultural Sensitivity and Competencies
The COVID-19 pandemic knows no boundary lines, whether it be by country or ethnicity. According to a report from the American Psychological Association, “people of color are more likely than white adults to report significant stressors in their life as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, namely getting coronavirus (71% vs. 59%, respectively), basic needs (61% vs. 47%), and access to health care services (59% vs. 46%)”(Bethune, 2020). The report also revealed that “slightly more than 2 in 5 Hispanic adults (41%) say their average level of stress related to the coronavirus pandemic during the past month was between 8 and10.Hispanic adults are also most likely to say they regularly or often feel stress as a result of the pandemic (37%), as compared with white (32%), black (32%), Native American (31%), and Asian (28%) adults”(Bethune, 2020).
Consider Special Populations
A 2016 New York Times article shared that “loneliness can accelerate cognitive decline in older adults, and isolated individuals are twice as likely to die prematurely as those with more robust social interactions. These effects start early: Socially isolated children have signifi-cantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors” (Khullar, 2016). With every state implementing a stay at home order, and nursing homes being locked down, time will only tell the lasting impact. Another important aspect to note, there has beenan increased number of minors who have contacted the National Sexual Assault Hotline. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, “at the end of March, with much of the country under lockdown, there was a 22% increase in monthly calls from people younger than 18, and half of all incom-ing contacts were from minors” (Kamenetz, 2020).
As we join together to fight the unseen enemy of COVID-19 and its effects on the mental health crisis in America, we must be diligent and proactive in our efforts to bring healing to others. It starts by taking care of yourselves and stepping up to address the mental health issues around us. Lives are depending on it.