Mental Health Awareness Month: Facilitator Spotlight
We were halfway through April when I realized it was no longer March. As for much of the pandemic, time has simultaneously stood still and rushed forward in bursts. In realizing we were in April, I reflected that March was the 2 year anniversary of when the world stopped with the beginning of the pandemic. As we enter May, we begin Mental Health Awareness Month. These two things are inextricably linked; the pandemic has added new layers to preexisting life stressors or mental health conditions and created a whole host of struggles, concerns, and worries that never existed before.
Like many in the service industries, mental health professionals have stepped up over the past two years to support the growing mental health needs of a significantly exhausted, distressed, isolated, and burnt out population. While navigating their own pandemic-related fears and personal challenges, mental health providers have expanded practices, embraced the benefits of technology to increase access, and adjusted hours to accommodate other needs. As we approach 1 million lives lost from the COVID-19 pandemic, grief and bereavement providers especially have found their expertise and support needed.
It is because of this and all the other wonderful work they do, that I want to recognize and highlight our COPE facilitators this month and thank them for their commitment to and unwavering support of our community. We have facilitators who have been with us since COPE’s inception and those who have joined us as recently as this month, but all of them bring knowledge, compassion, personal and professional expertise and experience to their groups. They have seamlessly transitioned groups from in person to virtual platforms, welcomed and supported new group participants who they have only ever seen from the shoulders up, and continue to be open to flexibility and new requests because they care so deeply for their groups and their participants.
Group support is so unique because of the validation, normalization, community, and camaraderie one receives from being with peers who have had similar experiences. Adding a skilled clinician to the peer group enhances the conversation, education, and healing that is possible. COPE would not have been able to continue to provide support over these past two years without them. They are a huge part of what makes COPE’s community special.
Thank you Marilyn, Janet, Mary Ann, Michelle, Lauren, Juan Carlos, Natalia, and Erika. We appreciate you!
And to you, our COPE community, especially during Mental Health Awareness Month, reach out for support and take care of yourselves. You are not alone.