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by Raquel Bennet

Mental Health is Social Justice. This means Mental Health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well- being. It how we think, feel, and act. It also determines how we handle/ cope with our day to day stress, relate to others, and work productively make choices that can contribute productively to our community.

Why did I choose Social Work?

I didn't choose social work, it's the other way around; social work chose me. I have been an advocate for human rights, social justice since I was at young age, I just didn't know I was actually fighting for justice then. Throughout my early years as a teenager I became the guardian for my younger brother who has an intellectual disability. Through the years of advocating for his rightful place in society, it became apparent to me that I enjoyed this type of work. I also worked in a wider capacity; in group homes and nursing homes. My interest and deep passion for those who needs a voice grew more and more. I realized then I should pursue a degree in social work.

The COVID- 19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Regardless if we had any form of mental health issues prior to the pandemic, many of us are facing challenges that are stressful, overwhelming, and brings out strong emotions in us: both adults and children. Many of us and especially those who are battling mental health issues, feelings if fear, anger, sadness, loss of love ones due to COVID-18, difficulty sleeping, the list goes on; we as mental health clinicians, social workers, must develop our own coping mechanisms so we can better serve our clients without countertransference because we are also dealing with the same issues due to COVID-19.

How to better address and cope with mental health post pandemic?

(1) Take breaks from watching the news, or listening to the news stories on COVID-19.

(2) Take time to unwind- take a walk in the park, run, do yoga, swim ( if safe to)

(3) Connect with others: call family, face time, WhatsApp, drive each other's home, wave from the car, send a post card or make post cards with your clients, play a game, do word puzzle with your clients- encourage your clients to meet a friend/ family in a safe space and play a put a puzzle together. Anything outside of the house wearing your mask, is worth keeping in touch with others.

(3) Connect with your community church or faith- base organizations- keeping connected with your faith can alleviate many stress of COVID-19.

(4)Refer clients unable to cope with the stresses of mental health post pandemic to crisis hit- lines when they can't readily reach a social worker.

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