At Shalom Tikvah and among other experts in the field, there is a great deal of concern about the short-term and long-term mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As restrictions are slowly lifted, people feel more comfortable about socializing, and many are returning to their places of employment. Parents are left with little support as schools are closed for the remainder of the year, the majority of camps are closing and those that are opening will have a significantly abbreviated schedule.
At Shalom Tikvah, a nonprofit providing comprehensive mental health care to families, 75 percent of our clinical team is comprised of working mothers who echo the concerns of many of our clients. We hear such phrases as “terrified,” “fearful of judgement” and “failure” being used to describe anxieties over the country’s reopening.
We have parents who are overwhelmed, exhausted and anxious dealing with kids who are anxious, depressed and frustrated. And even though we are mental health professionals, we are not immune to those same emotions.
As places start to reopen and people make the decisions to loosen their social distancing, we predict things will get even more overwhelming for parents. Children will start to test boundaries and parents will continue to feel guilty for working instead of spending quality time with their kids.
As the distance learning comes to an end, kids will have even less structure, yet the household tasks and the work will still need to get done. We have heard from our own children as well as from Shalom Tikvah participants, “It’s not fair,” as kids report which friends have been socializing and wonder why they are not permitted to do the same.
Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit management organization, reports a 34 percent increase in anti-anxiety prescriptions during the COVID-19 crisis. Ginger, which provides video and chat-based mental health services, reports that their psychiatrists wrote 86 percent more prescriptions in March and April than in the previous two months of 2020.
These statistics make us wonder if people are getting access to the quality mental health care they need. Our clinicians have reported that parents and kids are wondering if they will ever again feel comfortable eating at a restaurant or riding in an elevator with others.
When mundane events make us anxious, how can we thrive?
At Shalom Tikvah, we recognize that in order for families to thrive, in addition to doing the work within the confines of our offices and homes, they need the appropriate environmental supports. In order to flourish, children need the appropriate educational setting, enrichment and remediation opportunities, as well as appropriate psychiatric support to address their mental health needs.
This is why Shalom Tikvah has launched our #littleactsBIGIMPACT campaign, as a way to continue to provide the additional services that make Shalom Tikvah unique.
The campaign allows us to help our families fund tuitions to private schools that meet their child’s needs as well as psychiatric medications. Families are struggling more than ever to meet their family’s mental health needs, as many parents have been laid off, furloughed or forced to cut back on work hours to care for their children.
The most hopeful thing we have seen through this pandemic is individual people stepping up. For instance, 11-year-old Bryn Mawr student Claudia Colton has been selling splatter-painted shirts and donating 100 percent of the proceeds to the #littleactsBIGIMPACT campaign.
A mom of two young children, Stephanie Stempler has been making tie-dye clothing and selling the items on Etsy (EmmyLennon) and donating a very generous portion of proceeds to the campaign as well.
Flowers & Fancies allows people to order arrangements and herb gardens directly through Shalom Tikvah’s website so community members can brighten someone’s day while having a big impact on mental health care.
The common thread between Flowers & Fancies, Splattering Smiles, and EmmyLennon is the desire to make an impact and help families thrive. This, combined with a deep understanding and commitment to making sure the highest standard of mental health care is available for all families that need it, is why our community is stepping up at one of the most challenging of times.
Shalom Tikvah Inc. (shalomtikvah.org) is a non-profit organization that uses an innovative approach to treating mental illness and other stressors by treating the entire family system with comprehensive therapy as well as wraparound services. Shalom Tikvah’s clinical team, Nicole Glick, PsyD (clinical director), Talya Knable, LCPC (assistant clinical director), Rachel Berman, LCSW-C, and Tamar Livingstone, LGSW, along with Jennifer Grossman, director of operations, will be contributing weekly to Jmore. If there is anything you want their experts to address, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.