I’m going to be honest. This week I had a completely different blog post planned. I wanted to keep this light and funny. That being said, I am a full-time therapist and have been noticing the emotional and physical drain way more than usual. While I love the work I do, and am passionate about supporting children and families with mental health concerns, I’ve noticed that both my colleagues and I have been experiencing more exhaustion and increased feelings of being drained.
There is no official research out there, but anecdotally, providing therapy and mental health support over video platforms, combined with living in this collective crisis right now, has come with increased challenges. Many folks lean to mental health professionals for support during this time, and we are often seen as strong, solid individuals who can be a container for others’ worries and concerns.
Last night, after a long-day of Zoom therapy, and talking with some dear ones, I tried to research to see what support was out there for mental health professionals providing video therapy during a pandemic. Alas, there was nothing because of course, who planned to be a therapist during a pandemic?
While I feel very fortunate to be held and contained by my clinical supervisor, I think it’s important for it to be known that mental health professionals are on the emotional front-lines right now. Thus, I wrote the letter below for my Facebook community, my dear ones who are mental health professionals and my dear ones who are supported by mental health professionals.
A Love Letter to Mental Health Professionals
Dear mental health professionals,
I know that we are often the ones who are seen as strong, and well. And I know that it might be hard to be completely transparent about how you’re feeling right now. You are doing such important work right now, being there supporting those who are not doing well. Your mental health is just as important. There is no rule book on how to cope with being a Zoom-therapist right now. Frankly, there is not much research showing why you may be feeling more drained than usual right now. Your feelings and energy are completely valid. This is hard work. Being a therapist while you are living in a crisis is hard work and you are doing the best you can.
Some of you are parents, juggling newfound teaching roles, some of you are alone, away from your families, and some of you are trying to navigate confidentiality in a small apartment. It’s okay if you can’t provide care to the same amount of clients as you once did. It’s okay to speak up to those who support you, to share how you’re feeling. Our job is an important one, and you can only provide as much support, as you are feeling supported. I know we often share the cliche of putting your own oxygen mask on first, and often we are ‘do as I say, not as I do‘ people. You are seen, you are important, you are valued, and most importantly, you are human.
One way that we can support mental health workers is by sharing this letter with your friends, neighbours, family, coworkers, social media and beyond. Let’s all celebrate the mental health workers in our life and do what we can to support them.
Are you ready to share your story of RESILIENCE? You can do that HERE.
Written by Alana Kaplan, Project Manager for the I Am Resilient Project.