Mental health professionals train to treat pandemic-related anxiety, depression


ATLANTA (NewsNation Now) —The U.S. reached another COVID-19 milestone Friday — 100 million Americans are now fully vaccinated. But now, as the pace of the vaccine rollout quickens, many people who have been fortunate enough to work from home for much of the past year are experiencing new anxiety: the fear of returning to work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on Americans’ mental health collectively and as states are starting to reopen, therapists say the new challenge is figuring out how to put the trauma of the past 12 months behind us.

Kendall Flowe, the clinical director of Hidden River Consulting, in Atlanta, Georgia, and his colleagues are adding accelerated resolution therapy to their toolbox to help patients struggling with mental health due to COVID-19.

“We didn’t know when it was going to end, we thought it was 30 days and 60 days and nine elves on Christmas rolls around; when is this gonna end who knows and so beginning to help people reprocess and reconsolidate the memories of terror, fear and the unknown,” said Flowe.

As restrictions loosen and Americans start adjusting to the new normal, therapists say they’re swamped with patients, and the demand is still growing.

“I think there’ll be a significant amount in the next 18 months, people who can’t reassimilate into the world because of the memories of their dad getting it and dying or their or just, just being walled off in their house and not knowing,” said Flowe.

People like Savannah Warren are anxious over what’s next.

“Its weird like were trying to force it to be normal but it’s not very normal you know,” said Warren.

Mental health experts say it’s one of the greatest challenges of this part of the pandemic. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, last year about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder — up 30% from 2019.

Many Americans dealt with illness, economic loss, and isolation. Clinical Psychologist Dr. John Duffy says the memories and affects of those things don’t magically disappear when things open back up.

“All of us are post-traumatic in some way; this has been a traumatizing experience collectively,” said Duffy.

Duffy said the best remedy is for people struggling to know they’re not alone.

“I think we need to be gentle with ourselves and gentle with each other; trusting that we’ve all been through something awful and it manifests in different ways in different people.,” Duffy said.

Mental health experts say overcoming these issues won’t be easy, but they can be done.

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