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Psychological impact of the Pandemic: Conclusion

Dr. Brian Stagner, TPA Director of Professional Affairs, Associates for Applied Psychology

 

This four-part series is offered to summarize what we know about the psychological responses to the present crisis. It covers the effects of quarantine and the effects of economic downturns, how to help clients and the public, and concludes with ways to lead during and after the pandemic.

 

Conclusion

We know that psychological functioning is degraded for weeks and months after the end of a discrete trauma (like a fire or hurricane). The fact that the pandemic will not have a discrete end will exacerbate and prolong the psychological recovery well after the medical and economic situation begins to improve. The first phase of restricted movements, social distancing, and working from home will require adaptations that are mobilizing. Developing new routines, reordering the way we get essential products, learning a new standard of cleanliness, and mastering video conferencing all require focused attention and heightened energy. However, once the “new abnormal” gets established there will be a psychological dip in energy and mood. Thus, while we will be relieved when the infection curve flattens and the death to begins to slow down, we will still need to maintain a truncated lifestyle to prevent a resurgence. Demoralization will increase and psychological interventions will become more essential to public health. We should be realistic about this with ourselves, our patients, and our communities; planning to manage the dysphoria will be the best inoculation.

The pandemic and the dysfunction in the economy have disrupted our norms and expectations. Severe psychological problems will be exacerbated, but we need to monitor the impact of heightened stress throughout our communities. For the patients we see, the most fundamental intervention is familiar to psychologists: keep listening. We should also take leadership in our communities, writing letters, working with civic authorities, and educating our neighbors to be prepared to meet the psychological challenges ahead.

The Texas Psychological Association (TPA) continues to advocate for all 4,500 psychologists in Texas in need of support during the pandemic. TPA communicates weekly with the Governor’s Office, working toward addressing barriers to access for patients, as well as barriers to reimbursement for psychologists. TPA is also working directly with insurance companies, presenting your wrongfully denied claims and demanding an explanation. And when it is safe for the Texas Legislature to return, TPA will be there to help you tell your stories.

                                                                                                                                                                                               

REFERENCES

https://www.apa.org/research/action/trauma

Bateson, G. (1942). Morale and national character. In Watson, G (ed) Civilian Morale. Published by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

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Dr. Brian Stager is the Director of Professional Affairs at the Texas Psychological Association. He also serves as an American Psychological Association Council Representative. He is a therapist in Bryan/College Station.

 

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