Many news articles have been written, including this one in The Guardian describing how the COVID-19 pandemic poses a great threat to mental health. These articles are asserting that many psychiatrists believe the mental health impact of this pandemic will be felt for years after it ends.
Now that a vaccine is available, will this curb the anxiety and depression people are feeling after months of isolation, economic downturns and worrying they might catch the virus? I guess it depends on who you ask, because the vaccine itself is giving some people anxiety as to whether or not they want to take it. But of course, most of us will have to wait until it’s our turn.
And that brings us to this article from Forbes about the concern mental health professionals have when it comes to acquiring the limited number of available vaccines. It’s basically saying that federal guidelines for distributing the vaccine leave too much room for interpretation because it’s up to the individual states to decide if the term ‘health care worker’ includes mental health care workers. Of course doctors and nurses who treat COVID patients should get the vaccine first, but let us not forget that mental health workers may also be doing their essential work for patients who don’t even know they have the virus.
Fortunately the American Psychological Association documented in their December 11th article, that they are working with states to advocate for psychologists that provide in-person care to be among the high-priority health care providers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during Phase 1.
Now for most of us, we can find many options for taking care of our mental health, such as receiving treatment through online appointments so we don’t have to meet with a doctor in person. But for some, meeting in person is their best option for treatment. So let’s advocate where we can. Like sending emails to our state representatives and local government officials to let them know that mental health care workers are essential, and need to be protected. Because it may very well be true, that the mental health effects from this COVID-19 pandemic may be felt for many years to come. And the sooner people can get the help they need, the sooner they can heal.