Since Monday, Houston has been under more and more stringent social-distancing protocols in order to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The closure of many businesses plus the shutting down of most of the city’s recreational facilities, are leading to widespread financial distress and other anxieties that are making us miserable as we cower in our homes waiting for the worst to pass sometime in the coming weeks or months.
Now might be a really good time to try some therapy, and in many cases you don’t even have to leave your house.
Alyssa Webb-McCune is a licensed professional counselor – intern at Amy Wine Counseling in Cypress. She noticed a huge spike in distressed people seeking her aid right after the closure of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
“Clients told me they weren’t taking it seriously until then,” she says.
Since then, she has been putting out videos every other day through Facebook to offer worried people free general therapy sessions during the crisis. It’s a small thing she has been able to contribute to the mental health of a populace under stress, but she recommends that worried people should start looking into more traditional sessions. The good news is that she and other counselors are offering video-conferences that are fully confidential and compliant with HIPAA.
So far she has divided coronavirus clients into two categories. The first are those whose primary issue is the stress of quarantining, whether because they are part of the vulnerable population or because they fear they may have been exposed and are a carrier.
“We’re looking for what they can control because there is a lot that they can’t control right now,” says Webb-McCune. “It’s causing them to be anxious and spiraling, especially if they already have a tendency towards anxiety and depression. Find what is normal. Make sure you’re eating, exercising, brushing your teeth, contacting people even if it is just virtually.”
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She also recommends families seek counseling together if it is an option. With schools in Houston closed until mid-April and a lot of parents working from home, cabin fever is very common. Families trapped together for large amounts of time can start to get on each other’s nerves and wear down their emotional defenses.
The second category is people whose primary anxiety is driven by the economic situation. Even with Houston moving toward halting eviction proceedings and other relief that has been promised, many Houstonians are hurting because of business hour reductions and the plummeting price of oil.
“Financial anxiety is huge,” says Webb-McCune. “There are a lot of people who are not quarantining and insisting on going everywhere you are getting frustrated with the general population’s response. Anyone in the service industry is experiencing hurt right now. Here we want to look at past struggles. Obviously, nothing is going to be the same as this particular instance, but we can reach back to times when people have lost their jobs or otherwise struggled. How did they get through those moments, and can those ways be used to get through this one? You’re strong and resilient. You’ve been through stuff like this before. It’s about reminding people of that.”
As the city focuses on its physical health, we should be trying to keep our mental well-being a priority as well. If you find yourselves overly anxious or depressed, consider finding a counselor who offers video conferences. It will help you get through this crisis.