Whatever method you have been using for video conferences these days, we have had an unprecedented look into the lives of our colleagues, children’s schoolmates, teachers, professors, and even famous folks. While this pandemic has allowed the opportunity for a paradigm shift in the way we think about communication and the work environment, it has also raised several questions and concerns. When on my children’s Zoom “school” calls, I have heard yelling in the homes of some of the other children and teachers, crying, and seemingly very difficult moments at home. I have heard of similar occurrences on other professional calls.
This is a view into the lives of our colleagues and children’s schoolmates and teachers During these unprecedented times, resilience will be key in moving forward in a safe, healthy, and productive way. that we would never have had before, but what do we do with this information? Is there anything that should be done? In the era of the video meeting, bearing witness to emotional distress or even physical distress in the lives of others may be leaving those witnessing the events feeling helpless, uncomfortable, and hopeless. In minor instances, it is a distraction to the learning and work environment, and in the worst instances, it could be the signs of an unsafe home environment. How do we know from a video conference snapshot? The answer is, there are no easy answers.
If you feel like one of your friends, colleagues, or child’s classmates could be in danger, do not be afraid to alert the authorities. While most of the states are slowly re-opening, there are still many that will be staying home, and the goal to have the American people “safer at home” is prevalent. While this may be true of COVID-19, it is not always the case socially with the increase in the incidences of domestic violence. Those with mental health disorders are even more at risk during these times, as are those who are unable to care for themselves. These are trying times, and we are in the infancy of this new way of life. Going forward, there will need to be both patience, understanding, and compassion as we view the formerly private lives of those with whom we interact. There are numerous resources for those that may be facing domestic violence during COVID-19.
Continue to stay connected to your neighbors, friends, and family as we venture out. As we head back to the clinics, pay close attention to signs of domestic violence in your patients. Offer pamphlets in private spaces of your office, including the bathrooms. Screen for depression and anxiety in your patients, and check in with them on how they are emotionally dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. During these unprecedented times, resilience will be key in moving forward in a safe, healthy, and productive way.
K. Maravet Baig-Ward is a psychiatry resident and can be reached on Twitter @drmaravet.
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