This past Sunday, 10/11/2020, 60 Minutes aired a story that featured Dr. James Pruden, an Emergency Medicine Physician at St Joseph’s Hospital in New Jersey, who miraculously recovered from COVID-19 after being hospitalized for 33 days. Coinciding with this feature, the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) published an article titled, “Mental Health Disorders Related to COVID-19-Related Deaths.” (Simon, N. M., Saxe G. N., & Marmar, C. R., 2020).
Scott Pelley, the investigative reporter, inquired of Dr. Pruden, “As a physician and as a patient, what do you say to your medical colleagues about this going forward?”
Dr. Pruden replied, “What I say to the medical colleagues is learn resilience. Maintain physical strength and your cognition; Think, problem solve. It’s not a woe is me, but okay how can I do it better the next time? And we can do it. There’s strength in this community. There’s strength in the world around us. Look at that strength and build on it.”
COVID-19 & Resliency
Resilience has become the buzzword of this time. Everywhere you turn, people are talking about “resilience”, how well we adapt to adversity, trauma, or significant sources of stress. COVID-19 is adding stressors to all facets of our lives; health concerns, family concerns, occupational demands, changing lifestyles, and changing so much of the way we interact with people and the world around us. According to the JAMA article, COVID-19 is having a substantial negative effect on the mental health of everyday people. The article reported that 40.9% of respondents involved in a June 2020 survey for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported: “at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition.” These rates were reported to be 3 to 4 times the rates from 1 year earlier. The article further reported that 10.7 percent of respondents reported seriously considering suicide in the last 30 days. We all need to work together to counteract these adverse effects.
One of Dr. Pruden’s most important messages is that resilience must be learned. The high reported incidences of mental health difficulties suggest that we have much to learn when it comes to resilience. We are still feeling the aftershocks of COVID-19. According to the article, the second wave of devastation is imminent, attributable to the mental health consequences of COVID-19” (Simon, N. M., et al., 2020). One of TLC-VR’s main goals is to transform the words of resiliency, into a reality.
Resiliency in Health Care
At TLC-VR we build on the strengths of our community as well as the power of science, using empirically validated approaches to develop resilience as people confront the many stressors of our rapidly changing world. We teach lessons learned from the many people who exude strength, compassion, and caring throughout the pandemic.
“A public health/community strategy is critical to protect the health care system from becoming overwhelmed” (Simon, N. M., et al., 2020). TLC-VR helps individuals to stay connected virtually, and become more resilient. Through our live interactive resilience workshops, TLC-VR creates a space where medical colleagues find strength by sharing their own experiences with other medical professionals and are inspired by the stories of those with whom they work shoulder to shoulder under the most adverse conditions. Research has demonstrated that maintaining and improving connectedness is tied to one’s ability to be more resilient.
In addition to staying connected, one’s mindset is of vital importance in overcoming stress. Optimism in the face of adversity often provides additional strength to overcome that stressor. At TLC-VR we cultivate an optimistic outlook through the educational programs offered by our mental health professionals.
In addition to having a favorable outlook, feeling in control, and having the ability to think outside of the box are critical factors to promoting psychological wellness. In resilience education, this is referred to as mental agility. In addition to our live interactive workshops, TLC-VR creates a community of learning where the lessons learned are further developed by offering additional resources that every member of our community can access at their leisure.
We know from decades of research that grit and perseverance are critical factors to thrive. Persistence is another key component of resilience and a lesson that is discussed in our live interactive virtual workshops. We also provide additional resources and inspirational examples of individuals who were able to find their grit and persevere under the most trying of times.
TLC-VR is designed to build a community of connections so that we are “better the next time.” TLC-VR helps people learn new ways of thinking and the skills needed to push through hard times. TLC-VR celebrates the sense of meaning and purpose that serves as a backbone to emotional wellness. Research has suggested that all of these factors are linked to resilience.
Now more than ever, during these uncertain times, we need a space where we can support one another. Our need for connection is imperative for “‘humaneness” of humanity to survive. At TLC-VR, we hear the inspirational words of the countless health care providers whose day to day persistence serve as a further call to action. Thriving in a highly stressed and often unpredictable world is not a solitary task. We need the help of many others within our communities. TLC-VR facilitates a world where people help themselves, as they help others.