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News Items – May 13, 2020

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[Audio] Social workers answer the call during COVID-19 pandemic
Social workers have been playing an important role during this pandemic. Samantha Fletcher, Executive Director of the New York chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, explained how her organization is helping.

Brandy Brown is NASW-ME Chapter President; Jenna Mehnert is NASW-ME Board Member at Large
Mainers – and their therapists – experiencing new stress during pandemic
The Portland Press Herald
Brandy Brown, the board president for the Maine chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said people with social anxiety could prefer their isolation during the pandemic, and they might struggle when businesses and workplaces begin to reopen. “How are you going to help those people when they do need to reintegrate?” Brown said. “How do you prepare people to go back to the things they are so relieved from?”’… Jenna Mehnert, the executive director of NAMI Maine, said she has heard from people who lost their care because their providers were not offering telehealth or were slower to make the transition. But she has also heard about providers who are seeing even more people in their virtual practices.

Screenshot of CBS News video of one of Claudia La Bianca's murals.

Screenshot of CBS News video of one of Claudia La Bianca’s murals.

CBS This Morning spotlights Miami artist who paints murals of pandemic heroes
Cheers to CBS This Morning for this news segment on Miami artist Claudia La Bianca. La Bianca, who specializes in portraying women as empowering superheroes, found herself short on work during the Coronavirus pandemic. So she began doing paintings to honor healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. She was so touched by the response that she reached out to hospitals to draw murals of health care heroes — including social workers. Several hospitals have taken her up on the offer. “I can see their smiles through their masks,” she told CBS. “It’s the best feeling ever. I’ve never been so happy.”

Tammy Cook and Christine Dicks are members:
Managing mental health during COVID-19
North Carolina Health News
Tammy Cook and Christine Dicks have a counseling practice in Raleigh, where they now see clients via telehealth. Though they miss seeing clients in person, they report that it’s going well. They have been reminding clients to focus on the positives throughout this pandemic. “We have a negativity bias in our brains. It’s hard for us to focus on what’s going well. That takes practice,” Cook said. “That’s the lens in which we treat people.” She encourages clients to keep a gratitude journal and look for the ways in which communities are pulling together to support and help each other through this.

Sarah Verbiest is a member:
Rethinking Relationships in Isolation: Support for new parents
Dr. Sarah Verbiest is Director of the UNC Jordan Institute for Families. “When you’re getting ready to have a baby, there’s always so much community that happens,” she says. “You know, that baby shower where you’re getting that wisdom and support and all those hugs. And we know that there are a lot of real losses with not having that early interaction with grandparents, you know, their family traditions, that aren’t able to happen in the same way.”

Ashley Witherspoon is a member:
Advice for parents noticing behavior changes in children during the COVID-19 pandemic
Parents may begin noticing some changes in how our children are acting at home. “We are seeing a lot more temper tantrums,” said Ashley Witherspoon, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist in Durham. Witherspoon is also a parent, who knows just how tough this can be on children and teens who don’t have all of the tools to cope.

Robin Arndt is on the board of NASW-HI:
Webinar series on COVID-19’s impact to vulnerable Hawaiʻi communities
University of Hawai’i News
Rebecca Stotzer, a professor and director of distance education in the School of Social Work, and Robin Arndt, coordinator of field and continuing education in the School of Social Work, have helped pilot the new series, and each session already has more than 100 registered participants. “We want to ensure that providers are aware of the challenges various populations are facing and are equipped with the tools to better serve them,” said Arndt. “As they better understand the problems, they will be able to assist their clients to overcome the negative impacts of the pandemic.”

The Worst Situation Imaginable for Family Violence
The Atlantic
When lockdown and shelter-in-place protocols aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 went into effect earlier this spring, they put many Americans into circumstances they previously could only have imagined. While for many families the situation has meant isolation and monotony, for those who live with their abusers it has been a nightmare. Under coronavirus social-distancing protocols, the worst-case scenario for people who live with an abuser has more or less materialized. Social workers, lawyers, and advocates have had to rapidly adjust their services in order to get help to domestic- and child-abuse victims who are trapped inside with their abusers.

Benjamin Sher, Jennifer Zelnick, and Erica Sandoval are members:
Opinion: Social Workers Add a Holistic Touch to Contact Tracing
City Limits
A social work contact tracer is already trained to assess mental health needs and understand policies and how to tap resources for unemployment or food security. We are trained to look at problems holistically, and skilled at working face-to-face in people’s homes or on the phone. Our Code of Ethics drives us to be compassionate and comforting in carrying out our mission to serve, and to act with integrity. As has been well-documented, racial and ethnic minority communities have been hit hardest  by the coronavirus pandemic. Social workers will help bridge the gaps between a healthcare system that often has failed people and the need to quell this pandemic.

Let’s address the stigma of food stamps
The National Association of Social Workers recently published this warning: “Mental health leaders emphasized that progress is in jeopardy as social distancing rules and fears of the virus hamper traditional treatment efforts, including syringe exchange programs, peer counseling and medication-assisted treatment.” The U.S. wasn’t in a good place to begin with. A year before the pandemic began, the APA warned that the suicide rate in America is rising at “an alarming rate.”

Jennifer Hoskins-Tomko is a member:
Having Vivid Dreams During Quarantine? You’re Not Alone
Woman’s Day
Stressors have a big impact on the content of dreams, Jennifer Hoskins-Tomko, LCSW, owner of Clarity Health Solutions in Jupiter, FL, tells Woman’s Day. “My clients who are firefighters, when they talk about their dreams, they dream that they forget something — a boot, their hat,” she says. “My police officer clients often dream about a weapon not firing in their dreams. All of this is to say that your dreams help you to deal with a particular emotion. A lot of times, that emotion is stress.”

Mary Affee is a member:
Cary social worker provides mental health to front line workers in New York
A Cary mental health professional is on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 in New York. Mary Affee, a licensed clinical social worker, is sharing with ABC11 the mental health services she’s providing to those working in the hospitals. “We weren’t meant to physiologically hear this, be exposed to this, textbooks don’t prepare you for these kind of things,” Affee said. “They’re sharing their fear, but their resilience to come in. The stories are real; they are heavy to carry sometimes for sure.”

Alisa Kamis-Brinda is a member:
6 weird things you’re probably feeling right now that are perfectly normal
Alisa Kamis-Brinda, licensed clinical social worker, notices patients feeling profound guilt along with a sense of gratitude. “They are grateful for all that they have, but like everyone else, have uncomfortable feelings about the changes in their lives or feel fearful about what is happening,” Kamis-Brinda says. “Then they remember that there are people who are really struggling with health, financial issues or basic needs. Their mind tells them that they shouldn’t feel bad because of all that they have. It makes sense. They are human and struggling with the scary things going on and the major changes in their lives. At the same time, they know that they are fortunate for all that they have.”

Susan Tohn is a member:
[Audio] Coping With Mental Health In The Time Of Coronavirus
Public health experts and government officials are urging us to socially distance to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But what does this new reality mean for our mental health? We speak with Susan Tohn, associate professor of Clinical Practice at the Boston College School of Social Work and a licensed clinical social worker with her own therapeutic practice, and Dr. Edward Silberman, psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center and professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine.

Rebecca Margolis DeRaud is a member:
[Audio] Listeners Honor Those They’ve Lost to COVID-19
After receiving several calls and emails asking WDET to take time on the air to come together to mourn, Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson made itself a resource for listeners to honor someone they have lost to COVID-19. Guest: Rebecca Margolis DeRaud, a clinical social worker and local psychotherapist that specializes in complicated grief and mourning.

Alexandra Weber is a member:
[Audio] Lifelines: N.H. Refugee Communities On Challenges And Resiliency During The Pandemic
As part of NHPR’s series on trauma in the time of COVID-19, “Lifelines,” The Exchange focuses on New Hampshire’s refugees. Refugees who resettle to New Hampshire may experience trauma before, during, and after resettlement, and as they build new lives in the Granite State, we look at how the pandemic fits into this process of establishing stability, wellbeing, and community in a new place.

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