SPECIAL REPORT: Changing the conversation surrounding mental health

KNWA

The daily toll of COVID-19 is measured by new cases, deaths and hospitalizations, but something we may not see is its effect on our mental health.

ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — From frontline workers to parents and children, many are struggling with COVID-19’s toll on their mental health.

Those battling the frontlines are facing two deadly situations — the COVID-19 pandemic and a decline in mental health.

I know several people who have started medications.

MEGAN BERRY, ICU NURSE

ICU Nurse Megan Berry said the virus resurfaced mental health issues she thought she’d overcome.

“But COVID-19 kind of brought up some of those symptoms that I haven’t had for five or six years,” she said.

She said her coworkers are also struggling.

COURTESY OF MEGAN BERRY

“A lot of them have had new anxieties, new depression or kind of reoccurrence of old episodes of anxiety or depression,” she said.

Berry said working the frontlines, death is no stranger — but COVID-19’s casualties have been harder to face.

It’s almost every day that you have a patient that really gets to you, and you have no time to catch your breath and recover and process it all.

MEGAN BERRY, ICU NURSE

This battle… is being fought in hospitals and in homes.

Lori Lynn Tucker has three children all under the age of seven.

COURTESY OF LORI LYNN TUCKER

“Here we’ve all lost our tempers,” she said. “We’ve all had really really hard times.”

From managing work while being stuck at home together to the everyday challenges that come with being a mom, Tucker said this year has been a struggle.

“This year has definitely been a test of resilience,” she said.

COURTESY OF LORI LYNN TUCKER

The mental strain of this virus has also been affecting her oldest son.

“I’m just now realizing how hard [this] has been on him, even though he hasn’t had the vocabulary to share exactly what’s going on in his head,” she said.

This comes as no surprise to Burrell Behavioral Health Licensed Psychologist Dr. Shelly Farnan.

“From our kiddos up to our grandparents to everyone in between, our mental health has impacted,” Dr. Farnan said. “We’ve seen a rise in referrals, a rise in our crisis service needs, and calls into our crisis services.”

When it comes to coping with the struggles of mental health — aside from seeking therapy, Berry said not stretching herself thin while working long hours has kept her going.

For Tucker, finding joy in the little things is keeping her family afloat.

COURTESY OF LORI LYNN TUCKER

Dr. Farnan said when coping with these struggles, sometimes it can be as simple as just checking in with ourselves.

We have to stop and pause and honor how it is that our bodies are feeling and really invest and be intentional with that.

DR. SHELLY FARNAN, LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST

Dr. Farnan said one positive thing that has came out of this pandemic is that COVID-19 is elevating conversations surrounding mental health.

“This year, employers have to think of this because it’s impacting our employees,” Dr. Farnan said. “So, it’s requiring us to talk about mental health in all of our spaces.”

Which is something Tucker, who wears many hats at home, and Berry, who dresses out in scrubs — are extremely grateful for.

I hate that we had to go through this, but I am glad that it brought some things to the forefront of our minds that wasn’t always there.

MEGAN BERRY, ICU NURSE

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, below is a list of resources, phone numbers, and services available:

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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