Q: What are your deeper concerns, based on the people you are connecting with, about how mental health is triggered by this crisis?
A: I work with some folks who live alone and they have expressed feeling extremely isolated. We have discussed how to cope with the depression and anxiety that comes with isolation, but not knowing when things will be back to “normal” has been trying.
Others miss the touch or feel of another human being, so self-soothing has been an important topic lately. Self-soothing can be anything from drinking a hot cup of tea to holding a stuffed animal.
Q: What treatment options do you use to help with depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and mental health around identity issues?
A: I often use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is helpful in working with anxiety related to COVID-19 and our lack of control of the situation. I have also been offering mindfulness skills during sessions.
Our intention is to deliver therapy options through a social justice lens that is trauma-informed and sex-positive, aims to reduce risk, and applies attachment theory.
The therapeutic approaches have a lot of clinical terms. We work with each client to determine what approach will work best for them. It might include interpersonal therapy, Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy, sex therapy, Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing [see previous story in Minnesota Women’s Press about EMDR and veterans], drug and alcohol counseling, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and more.
Q: What long-term solutions do you think are needed to deal with health disparities, given the nature of pandemics in our society?
A: The COVID-19 crisis has been a pressure point that has shown how people of all backgrounds and identities need access to mental health care. Unfortunately, it has also shown how difficult it is to find and get the care you need.
Getting care, finding the right provider, making sure you can afford it — all of these things are tough in ‘normal’ times. The upheaval our society has seen with COVID-19 makes these all the more difficult. The injustice our clients face in navigating a world that disenfranchises them for their identities compounds that. It highlights how pressing the need is for real health equity, so everyone can focus on their health needs first.
Casey Nielson (she/her) is a psychotherapist with JustUs Health, which works for equitable health care for those who experience injustice based on gender, sexual, or racial identities. She works with individuals and couples in relationships around mental health and substance use disorders. JustUs Health teletherapy is offered statewide.