Therapists help people cope with coronavirus anxieties


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Local therapists say they have seen an uptick in the need for mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To keep social distance, many mental health professionals are only offering therapy services through virtual spaces. Some say in their online sessions, they’ve noticed a lot of anxiety in their clients with coronavirus-related concerns.

“It really is kind of the focus of most therapy sessions and people are struggling — understandably so. I think it’s been an adjustment period,” Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services clinician Lesley Hetterscheidt said.

Hetterscheidt says there’s such a high demand for services that Pine Rest is continuing to hire through the pandemic. 

“I think there’s always been a high demand for services and now on the outpatient end we are not limited by office space so we are looking for more people who want to help, want to be clinicians,” she said.

Private practice therapists say the issue has impacted them, too, with full caseloads in the last few weeks. 

“I think in our own ways, we all feel very alone and yet ironically we’re all connected in doing the same thing,” said Laura Bennett, a limited licensed psychologist in Ada.

Bennett said being confined to your home with little social interaction can be detrimental to mental health. She said closely following coronavirus updates can also bring on extreme anxiety.

“Whenever we’re in times of high stress, and I would argue this is some of the highest we’ve ever seen, everything is ticked up a few notches,” Bennett said. “Those who are already struggling with anxiety or self-isolation or the opposite, they’ve had a very busy life so their regular coping mechanisms are not there, some of those people are really struggling.”

She said that now more than ever, it’s important for people to take care of themselves mentally. 

“Your mental health and physical health are completely intertwined so keeping a balanced mental and emotional state is incredibly important to your health,” Bennett said. “The release of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones, is evolutionary meant to help us stay alive, but it’s also meant to come in short bursts because our bodies aren’t meant to be in a constant state of stress.”

Bennett recommends the following to relieve anxiety and stress:

  • Organize something every day (i.e. drawer, closet, desk)
  • Practice self-care
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Keep a routine
  • Take a shower
  • Get dressed
  • Exercise
  • Help others

For more information on services at Pine Rest or current job openings, click here


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