Field Notes: COVID-19 and the Provision of Psychological Services
Lessons Learning during the COVID-19 Era
We invited the respondents to our survey to reflect briefly on the lessons they have learned from their COVID-19 experiences, in an open-ended question. Here is a summary and analysis of the brief statements they offered. We have organized them by five themes.
The Covid experience
As we have noted throughout this report, the virus had a strong psychological impact on people throughout the world. This impact was often negative. In their individual written responses, many of the respondents reported being anxious and depressed—like the people they are serving. Furthermore, some comments were offered that suggest the effects of trauma. Respondents reported being a bit “trigger happy”. They indicated that they were “blowing things out of proportion because of the pandemic…”
Even more fundamentally, there was often an expression of overwhelm: “The problems of this world are more complex and inaccessible than I ever imagined.” There seems to be a repeated recognition that VUCA-Plus (Bergquist 2021) is alive and well throughout the world. It may dwell at the heart of the COVID-19 crisis and may induce some of the collective trauma that seems to be evident among not only those being provided psychological services, but also those offering these services. As one of our respondents noted, the virus has forced each of us to be “part of the entire world.” We witness the problems of this world. As one discerning respondent noted, this is “a pandemic that affects us all and healthcare professionals all over the world.”
Yet, with all the anxiety, depression, overwhelm, and potential collective trauma associated with COBID-19, some of our respondents reported positive outcomes of facing the virus challenge. At a basic level, they wrote about adopting a new frame of mind regarding daily events. One of our colleagues offered the following detailed and quite personal declaration. It is all about:
. . . put[ting] things into perspective. Three generations of my family went through a LOT more stress and uncertainty in immigrating and going through civil wars -THAT was strife. A pandemic that affects us all and healthcare professionals all over the world and vaccines that were developed in and available in less than a year is a blessing and a product of hard work… something we are grateful for. One thing besides an intention to not fall apart during the pandemic is to make a difference to individuals- I have been supporting selective low paid health care front line workers with gift cards etc. and tutoring. Clapping for healthcare makes a bit of difference but real gift cards and tutoring without charge makes a real difference.
Another of our respondents offered a more immediate and domestic perspective:
My weekends were often spent in rush, packed with activities. But Covid forced us to slow down and stay home. I spent more time with my mom and sister. Our mahjong games together give us opportunity to talk about anything. It has sparked an appreciation of the simple joys in my life[U8]. We don’t have to be out an about all the time.
A similar and expanded sense of appreciation for new opportunities at home was offered by several of our other colleagues. “Appreciation of the simple joys in my life.” Even more specifically, “I Appreciate… the shift to the work-from-home way of doing things.”
The perspective of appreciation offered by our survey respondents turned at times to reflections on their observations of other people in their life. In keeping with the observations made by our respondents with a long history of stress and struggle in their family history, several of our other respondents described their witnessing of admirable acts being taken by people around them who are facing the stress of COVID: “I have witnessed the remarkable courage and compassion in other people. Specifically, gratitude was articulated regarding the development of effective vaccines.”