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Normalizing without Minimizing: Responding to Mental Health Concerns During COVID-19 With Jonathan Ishoy

May 18, 2020

There has been a lot of discussion about the impacts COVID-19 has had on mental health, both directly and indirectly. It is important to acknowledge these impacts and understand how we may respond to them. A lot of what we may feel may be normal during a very abnormal time and situation, given the global pandemic. Being aware of the “new normal” and adjusting in a healthy way to such a circumstance is important for all of us as we learn to cope with the challenges and difficulties of a global pandemic. I, for one, have had to learn and adjust to new routines and habits in both my professional and personal life. For example, transitioning to social distancing practices and utilizing telehealth has been both a logistical challenge and an important adjustment to continue serving the students at Purdue. I have found it affirming and caring to normalize some of the common responses and adjustments I have had to make during COVID-19 and share them with others. Addressing some of these normal responses by utilizing healthy coping strategies can help in managing difficult thoughts and feelings that we may be experiencing as a result of COVID-19. It can feel empowering and consoling to normalize responses and utilize these strategies independently or with our family and friends. In the process of normalizing these responses it is also important to avoid minimizing them for ourselves and others. Adjusting to and coping with a global pandemic is challenging and difficult. It has exposed institutional, social, and personal debilities that may have otherwise remained dormant. Within our own personal challenges, we may experience mental health responses that are difficult to cope with on our own or with the support of close friends and family. It is important not to minimize these responses and to seek support from a professional when needed. I hope as we can normalize without minimizing the responses to COVID-19 we may better care for and support one another and continue to adjust to a different way of life.

Jonathan Ishoy, Purdue CAPS Staff Therapist