Simplified: Sioux Falls-area therapists and counselors have been working extra hours, taking on more patients and shifting to online sessions over the last year. It's been exhausting, and it's increased the need for self care for these care providers.
Why it matters:
- Usually, a therapist going through their own mental health crisis might step back from practicing or avoid certain specialties – for example, a therapist going through a divorce might avoid working with couples for awhile – said Dr. Doug Anderson, co-director of Sioux Falls Psychological Services.
- But that's not possible during a pandemic, partly because everyone is feeling the same stressors and partly because of increased demand for mental health services.
- Demand for mental health support has increased significantly during the pandemic, with as many as 4 in 10 adults nationwide reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
- Sioux Falls also saw an increase, though the Helpline Center hasn't been able to track specifically how many of the dramatic increase in calls they've seen were related to depression or anxiety.
“The Helpline Center has experienced a tremendous growth in our call volume this past year. Most of those calls were related to the pandemic, and the vast majority of these callers were also experiencing elevated stress and anxiety due in addition to the basic needs they had.” Helpline Center CEO Janet Kittams said.
What does all of this mean for therapists?
It means they've been busy, obviously, and that's meant longer wait times for patients looking to get an appointment.
The pandemic has also changed how therapy is offered.
Most practitioners have switched to telehealth, which can be isolating, especially if they're used to having other counselors around to debrief after sessions.
It's also been draining. With nearly every conversation focused on COVID-19, therapists had to fight burnout.
"We kinda just felt burnt out that there was nothing else to talk about," said Emily Learning, owner and clinical director at Encompass Mental Health.
What's helped mental health professionals deal with everyone's extra stress?
Self care and self awareness.
"The issue isn't whether or not we have issues like anyone else in the world," Anderson said. "But the issue is whether we're aware of them and dealing with them."
So, yeah, your therapist probably has a therapist, too.
What should I do if I feel depressed or anxious?
The Helpline Center has a detailed mental health guide with community resources. You can also call 211 for help.
If you feel suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.