Mental Health and the Covid-19 Pandemic

Betty Pfefferbaum, M.D., J.D., and Carol S. North, M.D., M.P.E.

Public health emergencies may affect the health, safety, and well-being of both individuals (causing, for example, insecurity, confusion, emotional isolation, and stigma) and communities (owing to economic loss, work and school closures, inadequate resources for medical response, and deficient distribution of necessities). These effects may translate into a range of emotional reactions (such as distress or psychiatric conditions), unhealthy behaviors (such as excessive substance use), and noncompliance with public health directives (such as home confinement and vaccination) in people who contract the disease and in the general population. Extensive research in disaster mental health has established that emotional distress is ubiquitous in affected populations — a finding certain to be echoed in populations affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Public health emergencies may affect the health, safety, and well-being of both individuals (causing, for example, insecurity, confusion, emotional isolation, and stigma) and communities (owing to economic loss, work and school closures, inadequate resources for medical response, and deficient distribution of necessities). These effects may translate into a range of emotional reactions (such as distress or psychiatric conditions), unhealthy behaviors (such as excessive substance use), and noncompliance with public health directives (such as home confinement and vaccination) in people who contract the disease and in the general population. Extensive research in disaster mental health has established that emotional distress is ubiquitous in affected populations — a finding certain to be echoed in populations affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF TRAUMA ON THERAPISTS: VICARIOUS RESILIENCE AND RELATED CONCEPTS IN TRAINING

Hernandez, P., Engstrom, D., & Gangsei, D. 

 An integrative training framework articulating multiple perspectives on the impact of trauma work is offered with a training/supervision exercise to address the complex and systemic relationships that affect therapists in both positive and negative manners. The concepts of vicarious trauma, vicarious resilience, compassion fatigue, resilience,  posttraumatic growth, altruism born of suffering, and reciprocity are reviewed. The paper highlights the importance of vicarious resilience as a dimension of experience that counteracts the normally occurring fatiguing processes that trauma therapists experience. 

SECONDARY TRAUMA AMONG CAREGIVERS WHO WORK WITH MEXICAN AND CENTRAL AMERICAN REFUGEES

Lusk, M., & Terrazas, S.

Thousands  of   refugees   have  fled   Me xico  ,  Ho ndur  as,  Guatema la,  and   El Salvador to escape violence, criminal victimization,  and  persecution  as  a  result of the breakdown of public safety that has accompanied the rise of organized crime and drug-related violence. Many of these migrants have experienced torture, rape, abduction, forced labor, arson, and kidnapp ing. Caregivers and professionals who work with these refugees, including social workers, volunteers, attorneys, and advocates,  have  repeatedly  witnessed severe  trauma  among  refugees  as  the  migrants  recount  horrific   stories about their journeys. We conducted in-depth interviews with  31  individuals who have worked extensively and repeatedly with traumatized refugees. Participants completed the Secondary Traumatic Scale (STSS) and the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL)-Compassion Fatigue (CF) scale. While most participants  reported  signs  and  symptoms  of  secondary  traumatic stress, many also demonstrated high levels of compassion satisfaction. In addition, most were  involved  in  se lf- care.  Hispanic  participants  reported that elements of their culture were protective.

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