WOSU's project Letters From Home is sharing stories from isolation—how Ohioans are getting through this pandemic, alone and together. While the coronavirus has undoubtedly impacted the physical health of the nation, it's taking a toll on mental health as well.
Matt Harmon is a licensed professional counselor who lives in Westerville, Ohio, and usually works in London. Since the state's shutdown began, like so many, he’s moved to telework.
Harmon has seen the pandemic touch each of his clients differently. Some are adjusting to the new climate surprisingly well, while others face new anxieties.
Harmon says he's seen clients struggle with a number of unprecedented difficulties, including both unemployment and work itself. Many are dealing with fear.
"Just fearing for themselves and their families, and possibly spreading the virus unknowingly," Harmon says.
While this is high time for anxiety and despair, Harmon is pushing his clients and others to talk about their experiences with one another.
"We can view this situation kind of like trauma," Harmon says. "It has affected our equilibrium, our sense of safety, our sense of stability. We're all going through this shared experience of trying to process the emotions, [the] unknown, and the hopelessness in the news."
In terms of healthy coping mechanisms, Harmon suggests taking walks in nature, or reflective tasks like journaling. His recommendations for healthy habits vary case by case, but he says positive distractions and limiting social media are good places to start.
The impact within the mental health profession has also been "unique," Harmon says.
"Our field had to quickly adapt," he says. "Having some of our interventions that we depend are not there now because of working remotely and that's been a challenge."
An Harmon's office slowly begins to open for therapy sessions again, he looks forward to seeing his clients in person again.
"This is not going to be a permanent unknown, so that provides a little bit of hope," Harmon says.
Come join our conversation.
This week's prompt features the question: How have you found distraction and relief during this time?
Answer this question using the form below, and try to keep below 1,000 words. Your response may be edited for length and clarity.