May was Mental Health Awareness month. Awareness encourages us to be informed and focuses our attention to clarify experience and perceptions. I would like you to consider your perception of the following two patients:
Patient One: 28-year old male with a history of Bipolar II disorder but with poor medication compliance. He has twice failed out of college and now relies heavily on financial support from his parents. He has limited employment experience and he generally cannot keep a job more than a couple months. He has been arrested on a few occasions for minor thefts involving shoplifting and breaking into cars.
Patient Two: Has the exact same history except that he is also a frequent user of heroin, fentanyl, and alcohol.
As with a lot of practitioners, you likely view Patient One as a victim of chronic mental illness, deserving of our understanding as well as all the resources our community can muster to support him in achieving a healthier lifestyle.
Each day, we are learning more about the social impacts of COVID-19 and the mitigation strategies, and it should be no surprise that these impacts are deleterious. Over a few months in early 2020, most of our lives became completely reoriented in an effort to manage the unknown effects of the new illness. Families with schedules that were structured around school activities, sports, and church suddenly found themselves sequestered at home indefinitely. When schools reopened, they did so with disjointed schedules subject to the randomness of positive COVID cases. While families felt increased stress, people without children or partners experienced an even more crushing isolation. With remote working, holidays cancelled, churches closed, community activities suspended, and restaurants carry-out only, individuals endured this period through Zoom and social media.
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