Saturday, September 23, 2023

On Helping Professions

Should mental health professionals be more concerned about the spread of a brain-invasive virus that affects mental health by doing a number on the brain??

Amanda Hu wrote 

"I feel like therapists and counselors as an entire profession (save a few individuals) not understanding how serious Covid is, thinking it's over and being part of the minimization of the pandemic is actually a crisis. We need the people who are supposed to guide us through grief and trauma to not be in denial of reality themselves. I've heard a lot of stories about avoiding Covid, or physical symptoms being pathologized even when the person has physical and medical proof of the damage Covid infection did to their body! I had a therapist I saw when I had a lot of climate grief a few years ago. I don't really see how she would have been able to help me if she didn't think climate change was real." 

And Dr. Mike Hoerger, a licensed psychologist, responded

"We need more psychologists who take the ongoing pandemic seriously. This means masking, using right-sized HEPA, contextualizing life struggles in terms of discrimination, exclusion, suffering, and loss, and empowering people to fight for safety." 

Hoerger also created the Pandemic Mitigation Collaborative to lead projects to reduce Covid transmission. 

From The Lancet: "Multiorgan MRI abnormalities were associated with severe and very severe persistent physical and mental health impairment." Covid affects the brain by inflaming glial cells and fusing neurons together! It affects the vagus nerve, hampering our ability to feel calm! All mental health professionals and advocates -- anyone who hopes to reduce the mental health problems in our communities -- should be doing absolutely everything possible to make sure people under their care - clients or students - do not get Covid.

You'd think anyone working in mental healthcare professions would be taught that, right?? 

But there are still lots of MDs who don't seem to have a clue about Covid, so maybe my expectations are too high for professionals in the field to know about the conditions they're asked to treat!

Meanwhile, in my class of burgeoning therapists, I can't get most students or profs to wear a mask. I'm considering dropping out of my program, it feels so unsafe. One prof keeps referring to "during Covid" as an era in the past that's long over. The director came to a class as a guest lecturer, and coughed without even covering her mouth, and that's the person I have to talk to if I want to get remote accommodations. As caring professionals, aren't they at all concerned about spreading a virus to people at a fragile point in their lives??

When I'm the only one in a mask, it feels like sitting in a bullet-proof vest in a room full of people waving loaded guns. Even with the vest, I could easily get hurt or be killed. And I'm just begging people to please just put the safety on at the very least!! I don't want to limit how they live their lives - I just want them to mask so that I can safely live my life, yet so many refuse. Even in a class of people who want to spend their lives helping others, so many think it's way too much to ask someone to protect others from a brain-invasive disease. I would be absolutely gutted if I realized I gave someone a life-threatening virus because I didn't feel like wearing a mask for three hours; I really can't understanding caring people who don't feel that way once shown all the relevant facts about the virus.

Attendance is mandatory in all classes, and you can lose the possibility of CRPO accreditation if you miss "too many" (unspecified) classes throughout, and you won't find that out until the program's over, which is sneaky! I might just be the one to find out just what that number is that pushes me over the limit this term. 

A history prof at UW read this Policy Options article about the inequity caused in universities that don't have mask mandates, and she said,

"All I could think about as I read this piece was the University of Waterloo student I saw the other day trying to learn from the corridor. He'd set up a chair just outside the door of his lecture hall, no desk, masked up, trying to avoid infection without missing class. We can do better!"

We definitely can do better! 

Universities should not be waiting for students/profs to get sick before bringing back masks. They should do it NOW to ensure classrooms are equitable for those immunocompromised -- and recognize that anyone who's had Covid could BE immunocompromised now. And all schools, from kindergarten to post-grad, should be TEACHING the facts about Covid: 

  • It's not going to go away - likely ever.
  • Learning to live with it means learning to protect ourselves from it (masks and clean air).
  • It's mainly spread by people who feel perfectly healthy.
  • Every time you get it, it increases your chances of getting Long Covid.
  • You can catch it again within weeks, even if you're vaccinated.
  • It destroys immunity, similar to HIV, making it easier to get other illnesses.
  • It's not like the flu or a cold. Even mild cases can lead to Long Covid.
  • It hibernates in the body like chicken pox, polio, and HIV, then attacks later on. 
  • It's extremely contagious!! 
  • It's AIRBORNE, so it can cross a room in minutes like cigarette smoke.
  • Long Covid impacts can destroy life and livelihood.
  • It fuses neurons together in the brain and affects the vagus nerve, both impacting mental health. 
  • In Canada, it currently kills almost three times as many people as road collisions.
  • If you think it makes sense to reduce risk of harm with a seatbelt, then wear a mask! 

People have crowdsourced a Covid Cautious Counselling Directory, which is at once amazing and disappointing. Imagine if people had to get together to dig up therapists who believed cancer was real because so many therapists smoked in their office, unconcerned! It's frustrating how many act like it's just like any other cold or flu instead of being a vascular disease that never leaves the body and comes back to become Long Covid in one out of every five infections. But it's really disappointing when they're mental health professors training new therapists to live in denial of a brain-invasive disease.

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