Horizon Scanning: Recovery of one’s emotions, mind and soul – the mental health road-trip ahead in a COVID-19 world.
Re-opening a state, region and country is now a daily topic of discussion. When, how and who? We need to recognize factors involved and economic forces in play. They are intertwined with our mental health.
There are many types of recovery involved: personal, economic, business, financial, employment and institutional. All impact our daily lives.
To put our present situation into a different context…
The United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP) tipped during the 1970s from manufacturing to services. The Depression of the 1930s and 28 other documented recessions since 1857 have provided a good sense of recovery data for a manufacturing based GDP. Almost every major recession/depression since 1797 has involved a GDP led by manufacturing. We have had 5 recessions since the 1970s but those were about a year in duration.
The, what I will dub, “COVID-19 Recession” will be broader in nature, scope and impact partly because of a service industry heavy GDP combined with our interconnected global economy. Further muddied by the Service-commodity goods continuum. It is from this perspective we should view mental health concerns as they are impacted by our economy.
COVID-19 turned our world upside-down in 45-60 days. Will it take just 60 days to return to pre-COVID-19 levels? Sadly, I think not. While we are managing our immediate needs the best we can, we must also manage our mental health and real world expectations. Our individual struggles are just that- individual; but common themes are unemployment, financial insecurity, health concerns, economic instability and the uncertainty (fear) of the future (unknown).
First, allow yourself to be human. Whatever that feeling may be; anger, frustration, fear, sadness, tiredness, unstable, out-of-control, guilt, grateful, determined, fortunate etc. Yes, #inthistogether but our individual circumstances are our own. We should not compare respective circumstances. Why? Simple… best understood by the saying “You know my name… but not my story.” Social media is not real life. Truths aren’t often posted. It is okay to be you and feel what life is about today. And tomorrow. This is the road to personal recovery.
Second, “expectations”… While hope is a good thing, living with uncertain or changing expectations can be challenging. It is not easy. Accept this, understand it and know that others are experiencing the same thing. Try to set reasonable goals and expectations. One small step at a time. The daily successes will help you to tomorrow’s success.
Third, stay connected. Don’t live in your head rent free. It can be easy to stay to yourself. We find it is easier to share good times and not difficult ones. You matter… your situation may give another person insight to know they are not alone. A burden shared is a burden lifted.
Fourth, “Action binds Anxiety” This circles back to the second half of Item #2 above. Working towards goals to solve areas of concern lowers your anxiety and provides a sense of control and calm.
Fifth, control what you can control. Understand what you can influence and/or shape the outcome of. Focus on doing something that can benefit you. You can’t control if it rains… so why stress over it. Reach out and catch up with a friend, do laundry, read a book, work, or enjoy a relaxing smooth jazz play list as the author is doing now.
Sixth, understand that in the weeks and months ahead there will be many different and often simultaneous paths to recovery. They will not be in the same time frame, speed, anticipated result or recover in the same nature and scope as they tumbled. You go back to work but not a full 40 hours, at first, thus the financial recovery might be slower for you. You want to support the local pizza restaurant but defer ordering a pizza to pay some bills. The pizza restaurant may not be able to pay rent for a couple of months. State does not get expected sales tax revenues. Landlords impacted by lower rental revenues. So on and so forth… personal, economic, business, financial, employment and institutional impacts. Recovery will happen but not in a linear fashion.
In the military, the expression “got your 6” means “I have your back.” But also know…
“I have your 12”… I am looking out for you.
Author: Bradford Cole, Executive Director & All-Hazards Psychological Trauma Responder.
Mr. Cole is K9FR’s subject matter expert and thought leader. He has 37 years experience in the security, crisis management and investigative professions. A responder to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Mr. Cole’s deployments include Pittsburgh, PA synagogue shooting, Boston Marathon bombings, Las Vegas concert massacre, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting as well as peer support for public safety. He was deployed to Smyrna, DE to assist in the aftermath of the 19 hour prison siege, hostage taking and homicide.
Mr. Cole is a member of the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), Boston Medical Reserve Corps (BMRC) and Boston Public Health Commission – Office of Public Health Preparedness – Disaster Behavioral Health – Crisis Response Group. Group Leader for K9FR’s Rapid Intervention Go (RInGo) Team. He is a member of Critical Incident Teams for PD, FD, EMS, and DOC as well.
Certifications include Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program Specialist, Psychological First Aid (PFA), Post Traumatic Stress Management (PTSM), Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). Mr. Cole is also Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Loss Prevention Certified (LPC) and principal of Diogenes LLC; a boutique investigative agency focusing on white collar crime.
We often meet individuals who want to help after a school shooting or other community tragedy. People are hurting; not just physically but emotionally as well. They want to help their community and sometimes offer “I have been trained in Mental Health First Aid.”
It is important to understand which protocol is best suited to meeting the needs of those impacted and not inadvertently causing more harm. This can be difficult if one does not understand the intended uses and differences of two common mental health support teachings.
Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a technique for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic incident or disaster. PFA is designed to reduce the occurrence of Post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI; an injury to one’s psyche that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event).
The basic principle of PFA is that, in the immediate aftermath of the traumatic event, support from a trained compassionate individual may aid in long-term recovery. PFA is not focused on any mental health diagnosis and works to prevent change from occurring.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) aims to teach participants how to recognize symptoms of mental health problems. MHFA educates people about how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health issue. The idea being that providing MHFA offers initial support until appropriate professional help is received or until the mental health crisis is resolved.
MHFA has a broader focus. Mental health first aid is the help provided to a person who is developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of a mental health problem, or in a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received or to crisis resolves. Thus, it includes the full range of developing mental disorders and associated crises. In other words… dealing with a person who has an existing/developing condition.
To learn more, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBDWMngsgro