Suppose you developed a persistent cough, soaring fever, unrelenting fatigue, and experienced difficulty breathing. Imagine these symptoms lasted for well over a week. With heightened concern related to coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), would you seek treatment?
Some may respond in the negative, choosing rather to power through the discomfort of infection. After all, they may conclude there are no approved, valid, or reliable treatments available at this time. Presently, global professionals recommend prevention as a best practice measure to address COVID-19.
A number of people would answer in the positive, reasoning that while there’s no abortive treatment available medical providers may address aggravating symptoms that cause serve illness for older adults and people with serious underlying health conditions. For a segment of the population, unaddressed symptom presentation could prove harmful.
For the sake of this blog entry, presume you are an older adult with a preexisting health condition who seeks medical care for the aforementioned persevering symptoms. You are then diagnosed with an active COVID-19 infection. Can you think of any friends, family members, or loved ones who may look at you with disgust for having sought proper medical attention?
While it isn’t my aim to suggest that mental health conditions are infectious, I question the manner by which physiological treatment is accepted while a stigma often remains concerning psychological care. One could also compare and contrast mental health care with that pertaining to type 1 diabetes, hypothyroidism, hypertension, or migraine headache treatment.
Here’s a mental exercise worthy of consideration. If you told a close friend you were involved in mental health treatment, how do you imagine the friend responding? How about a close family member? Do you think a loved one may support your decision to address matters related to psychological wellbeing? If you suspect the people in your life would ridicule you, think about what evidence you have to support or refute this idea.
As COVID-19 is firmly embedded in the collective conscious of so many people, I want to take a moment to think critically about the perceived social stigma related to mental health treatment. At the time of writing this entry (March 24, 2020), the United States (U.S.) has 44,183 cases of COVID-19 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020), and the current U.S. population is 331,883,986 (United States Census Bureau, 2020).
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly one in five U.S. adults maintain some form of mental illness (NIMH, 2019). The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 43.3% of U.S. adults received mental health treatment in 2018 (NAMI, 2019). Per one American Psychological Association (APA) survey, “A total of 87% of American adults agreed that having a mental health disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, and 86% said they believe that people with mental health disorders can get better” (APA, 2019).
Now, think again about the mental exercise from earlier. Is it true that the people in your life—those who actually matter to you—would disparage you for seeking mental health treatment any more than they would if you were receiving care for COVID-19? Per the aforementioned statistics, only 0.01% of U.S. citizens have tested positive for COVID-19 while 43.3% of U.S. adults have received mental health care service—nearly half.
The point I’m making is that with social upheaval regarding a physical health illness that so few U.S. citizens currently experience, it may be wise not to neglect consideration of the psychological conditions that a far greater number of our national population experiences. Now recall the first question asked in this entry: With heightened concern related to COVID-19, would you seek treatment? How about if you had a mental, emotional, or behavioral health condition?
Hollings Therapy has adjusted routine practices to better accommodate those impacted by the influence of COVID-19. For those citizens in the Austin, Texas area, telehealth psychotherapeutic services are offered at a sliding scale fee, until otherwise specified. Generally, services for individuals are $80 per 50-minute session and $100 per 50-minute couple session. Currently, both individual and couple sessions will receive a $20 reduction per session as a way to better assist people during this financially challenging time.
If you’d seek help for COVID-19 symptoms, why not practice self-advocacy for an increased level of functioning and improved quality of life that psychotherapy can offer?
I am an associate psychotherapist in the Austin area, working with Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates. While my theoretical approach tends to be cognitive/behavior focused, my practice is further informed by mindfulness techniques, existential theory, and psychodynamic approaches. I look forward to scheduling an appointment with you.
I may be contacted at:
Website – www.hollingstherapy.com
Email – DericHollings@hollingstherapy.com
Phone – (512) 774-8680
For more information regarding COVID-19, please visit:
The World Health Organization – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html
Deric Hollings, LPC Intern, LMSW
Supervised by Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S
American Psychological Association. (2019). Survey: Americans becoming more open about mental health. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2019/05/mental-health-survey
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2019). Mental health by the numbers. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers
National Institute of Mental Health. (2019). Mental illness. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml
United States Census Bureau. (2020). U.S. and World Population Clock. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/popclock/