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Mental Health During the Covid Pandemic

Mental health is often an overlooked subject during times of quarantine. Furman Master of Science in Community Engaged Medicine Alum and Greenville County Paramedic Jill Gravley gives her thoughts on how everyone can take part in combating mental health issues during our entrenched circumstances. She has requested that we dedicate this article to Dion White, a friend who recently passed.

Why is it important to think about population health through a community engaged approach?

We talk a lot about implicit biases, and in our healthcare seminars, we talked about homeless populations, mental health, you know, really kind of getting in the nitty gritty parts of these, more or less, vulnerable populations. Because they are less able to really overcome those barriers to take care of themselves and really overcome these health barriers. So in the specific gender, race, ethnicity, different disparities that we’ve talked about in the program, along with mental health and the different things that we have to overcome as Americans in this pandemic specifically, we talked about different ways to be advocates for people and not only advocates but allies and also really going out and trying to do our best work and really trying to help people be better by becoming more knowledgeable, not only about biomedical sciences, but also population health, and all the different things that really feed into well being and how we can really carry that into our medical professions.

What would you what would be your recommendation to the average citizen who wants to step up in their community and make an impact?

I think that it can be as simple as smiling at somebody. I think that sometimes when you’re walking in the grocery store, you don’t realize that you might be looking at somebody and kind of subconsciously having those implicit biases, and you really don’t know what that person’s going through. So really kind of stepping back and realizing that there’s a bigger picture here that sometimes just telling somebody ‘I hope you have a wonderful day’ can totally change their day and even your day because you’re helping someone else. So it’s more than just being an advocate. If you’ve had experience with mental health, some people don’t quite understand that. It’s difficult and it’s not easy to overcome, especially with the lack of resources that are available, but really being an advocate and just being just being nice to people and really making sure you’re checking in and just being positive as much as you can, especially in times like this where Coronavirus has us all stuck up in the house and we can’t really go anywhere or talk to anybody to have that physical connection. So it’s important to reach out and check on people. We just had a friend passed away last week, so I kind of haven’t talked to him recently and I really wish I would have.  So now I try keeping up with people and just making sure everybody knows that I care about them and then I’m here for them and just being a good friend as much as I can.

I think one way for our community as a whole to help people with their mental health during this time as just to be active. Make sure you’re aware and reaching out to those people that you might not have talked to in a couple of months. Maybe you kind of say ‘hey, I hope you’re doing well!’ It’s kind of hard to smile at people when you have your face mask on, but maybe wave or try to reach out to somebody who maybe doesn’t have that social support at home, or anybody in the local area to kind of help talk to them and try to be their friend in a time where we all kind of feel cooped up and isolated.

I think if I had to change things I could even do that more often. And really let people know how much you care about them. Even if it’s someone that you really never talked to you just maybe like their posts on Facebook or say I hope you’re having a wonderful day and just try to be cognizant of everyone else and their situations because it might not be just as simple as you might think.