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In one way or another, the COVID-19 has impacted everyone’s lives.

Not surprisingly, the pandemic has triggered a wave of mental health issues. Anxiety, depression, social isolation or just the general stress that’s a result of living through COVID-19, we’re all feeling it.

I am a mental health professional with over 35 years’ experience, dealing with all forms of mental health care – yet I am no different.

When the New York State shut down all non-essential offices in March, life became very different for me. It was challenging. My practice in Dyker Heights, Neighborhood Counseling Center, is an Article 31 so was considered an essential business, therefore we needed to stay open.

My primary consideration for the past 9 months has been to keep my staff and our clients safe. It kept me up at nights, trying to work out a schedule that would allow as many employees as possible to work from home, while still manning the office for essential in-person scheduling.

I decided to change the office hours to 10 to 6 Monday to Friday and Saturday 9 to 5, with online counseling offering a wider range of appointment hours. I reflect on how lucky we were that we had already introduced Online Counseling to our range of services, we were already set up technically, we just needed to demonstrate to our clients, that online counseling was as affective as in person.

Most people were relieved that they could continue with their Therapist from the safety of their own home, but some still needed in office services.

I am the only clinician to remain on site every day, to assist with clinical consultation, review new admissions and supervise my staff. I am constantly doing crises intervention with new and existing clients, and i have been, and will continue to work 7 days a week until the pandemic is over.

We actioned strict CDC guidelines, yet I found myself constantly worrying that the support staff at the office was safe and managing the emotional stress of home and work life. I encouraged self-care, I bought them lunch, made sure they had enough supplies and assisting them with their anxiety.

The anxiety level among our clients and the general population imploded. Existing appointments continued and the requests for new appointment increased like never before. We had also made the decision to expand our BCS Group Practice to the 5 boroughs. There are so many people who need help, but most local private practices closed their doors.  I leaned on my management team to keeps things running as smoothly as possible, and our intake team to help communicate and facilitate appointments via our secure online platform.

I also needed to support our therapists who were working remotely, helping them emotionally and supporting them professionally with issues they were experiencing with their clients.

I was taking care of everyone around me, but also, I had to take care of myself. I had to remind myself that I am in a high-risk demographic for Covid-19, having asthma and high blood pressure, it was imperative I protect myself from getting sick so I can take care of those around me. I became extremely proactive, making sure that I, and all my staff followed the rules. Wearing a face mask, staying six feet apart. Constantly sanitizing, not touching my face. But most important I eat right, exercise and get enough sleep.

On a personal note, my daughter is in her last year of college, my anxiety about her safety, and her anxiety about my safety skyrocketed. Thankfully her college is doing classes online, but she still lives on campus. Like many during this pandemic, she adopted a cat. My job as a mother is to make her feel safe and help her through this difficult time.

2020 has been a challenging year for most, but I know i am one of the lucky ones. My family, my staff and I are currently safe and well. We are looking forward to Christmas and the new year. So many people around the world are not so lucky, our thoughts are with them as we head into the festive season. We will continue to serve our community as best we can, staying safe and encouraging others to do the same.

Happy Holidays to you all.


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An article by : Nicoletta Pallotta

A New Domestic Violence Crisis: Covid-19

Social isolation and working from home, aimed to stop the spread of the coronavirus may be making domestic violence more frequent, more severe and more dangerous. Are you or someone you love being abused? 1 out of every 3 women are in an abusive relationship and this issue becoming even more common during COVID-19, while we are stressed and forced to spend large amounts of time at home together.

Below are 10 common indicators of abuse:

  • Stalking: questioning your every move while telling you that they love you and are being protective
  • Texting or calling you constantly; insisting they are concerned about you and want to make sure that you are safe
  • Controlling your finances: forcing you to account in detail for every dollar that you spend
  • Criticizing you for every little thing you do
  • Humiliating you in front of your family and friends
  • Angering easily, particularly if he or she is drinking
  • Forcing you to have sex against your will
  • Hitting or punching you
  • Jealously of friendships or any other relationships you have
  • Isolating you from family and friends

If you can say yes to even one of these, you are in an abusive relationship.

During a calm stage, it’s easy to remain in the relationship thinking that it won’t happen again, but it doesn’t help to ignore the problem or live in hope that the abuser will change. It’s very important to be prepared and have a safety, back-up plan in case the violence erupts again.

Be prepared in case you need to call a shelter

It’s not accepting defeat to be ready. Find out about legal options or other resources available to you before you have to use them. You should know exactly where to go and how to get there, even if a situation arises the middle of the night.

Prepare an emergency bag, for a quick exit

Keep cash, a checkbook, your savings account details, identification, a medical insurance card and your address book in a safe place where the abuser can’t find it. The last thing you want to be worried about at a time like this is money!

Leave the situation

If it happens, be ready to go. If you have children, take them with you. If you are in immediate danger call 911.


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An article by Nicoletta Pallotta, MD, LCSW.

The challenges that women deal with are often directly related to their gender; sexism, stereotyping, motherhood, childbirth issues, infertility struggles etc.

As a society we like to think that we’ve achieved ‘equality’, but the truth is the way women experience life and are perceived in life, is still very different to men.

Traditionally perceived gender roles are something we’ll never truly escape. There is inherent pressure on women to balance career and family, and this is something that affects women across the globe. If you have children, you probably undergo immense guilt when unavoidable parental obligations interrupt your working day, even if a 60-hour week is your norm, deep down you may still think this way. All this in addition to the general predicament of feeling undervalued both at home and at work.

If you feel like you need help in dealing with any aspect of life, there’s a lot to be said for talking to someone of the same sex. Female therapists get it, because they live it. They understand. This is not to say that male therapists aren’t amazing and don’t add value, but when you’re dealing with sensitive subjects that are unique to women (and even when you’re not) it can be comforting, and easier to talk to a female counselor who can personally relate to much of what you’re going through.

 


 

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