We at Arts & Humanities Bainbridge (AHB) developed Currents Online as a way to connect one another to the cultural community on Bainbridge Island. Please read the important piece, “Psychological Health in the Age of Pandemic,” by my colleague Dr. Britt Gonsoulin, psychiatrist and head of the Bainbridge Prepares Psychological First Aid Team. Dr. Gonsoulin highlights the need to understand our natural reactions to any disaster. Psychological First Aid provides a way to build resilience for individuals and communities.
In addition to my role as president of AHB, I have been a child psychiatrist for over 40 years and have spent my career focusing on mental health. During this distressing time, maintaining our mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic is just as important as maintaining our physical health. While we do our best to slow the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing, it is important to remember — this is physical distancing. Maintaining our social connections to one another, albeit from a distance of six feet or remotely, is more important than ever.
Linda maintains a private practice in Child Psychiatry on Bainbridge Island. She lived and worked in Asia from 1995 – 2014. During that time she worked as a Medical Director and Director of Medical Affairs for Merck, Sharpe and Dohme, a pharmaceutical non-profit mental health organization in Tokyo that provided mental health treatment and disaster response after the 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. She currently serves on the board of the Global Fund for Mental Health. She joined the AHB Board of Directors in 2017.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty
By Doreen Marshall, Ph.D.
Human beings like certainty. We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening when and to notice things that feel threatening to us. When things feel uncertain or when we don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed. This very reaction, while there to protect us, can cause all sorts of havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us.
A large part of anxiety comes from a sense of what we think we should be able to control, but can’t. Right now, many of us are worried about COVID-19, known as the “Coronavirus”. We may feel helpless about what will happen or what we can do to prevent further stress. The uncertainty might also connect to our uncertainty about other aspects of our lives, or remind us of past times when we didn’t feel safe and the immediate future was uncertain.
In times like these, our mental health can suffer. We don’t always know it’s happening. You might feel more on edge than usual, angry, helpless or sad. You might notice that you are more frustrated with others or want to completely avoid any reminders of what is happening. For those of us who already struggle with our mental wellness, we might feel more depressed or less motivated to carry out our daily activities.