Maintaining optimum physical health is everyone's priority right now, but the coronavirus pandemic is also affecting the mental health of millions.
For those of us who are non-essential workers, we may experience generalized concern about what we read in the news. But for health care workers and other essential employees, mental health may become a daily obstacle while working on the front lines.
Licensed clinical social worker Jeffery Frank owns a private practice in Sarasota, and is one of several therapists participating in Coronavirus Online Therapy, a pending nonprofit that provides free or reduced-cost therapy sessions to essential workers nationwide. The service is run entirely by volunteers, with therapists devoting their time and expertise to the cause.
"Essential workers can qualify for sessions without having to worry about insurance or financial status," says Frank. "We want help to be accessible and affordable for everyone."
Whether workers are dealing with traumatic scenes in hospitals, anxiety, depression or an overloaded work schedule, Frank is equipped with the tools to help. "Articulating upsetting feelings can be such a relief for people," he says. "We are getting to the root of these feelings, and doing so with compassion and care."
Virtual therapy sessions may seem daunting at first, but Frank finds that video chat has been crucial in detecting the body language and tone of voice of patients, especially while in quarantine.
Besides seeking professional help, Frank has tips for anyone dealing with pandemic-induced stress. He encourages people to acknowledge their negative emotions and accept what they can't control, to look for safe, realistic and positive changes they can make in their daily lives, and to be patient and compassionate with themselves and others. Also: Have hope that the pandemic is temporary.
"Because of my work, I get the opportunity to be compassionate every day in this common suffering we are all dealing with," says Frank. "To me, this work is relieving."
If you are an essential worker hoping to qualify for this service, go to Coronavirus Online Therapy's website and fill out an application. You will be matched with a therapist and can begin virtual sessions via phone or video chat.
Jeffrey Frank's practice is located at 2831 Ringling Blvd., Suite C-111, Sarasota. For more information, click here.