Good Morning, Santana!

As we entered our ninth month of working at home due to Covid-19, I wanted to share my experience as a mom and professional, getting through this change to our typical day to day lives. I want to start by saying that I am grateful that I am employed and have a job that I can continue to do from home, which, unfortunately for some, was not an option. Without getting on my soap box, I will keep it short and honest about my experience these past months. This transition has been by far the most frustrating transition with my beautiful 2-year-old boy Santana, period! Like anyone who works in an office, you develop a routine. I'm going to just speak on my morning routine, which looked like the following before the pandemic; get up, get dressed, get my son dressed, drop him off at his grandmother's house, and do my cardio (which is power-walking up a hill to the train, praying I catch it.) I say power walk but probably borderline jogging! I used to do my cardio every day before arriving at the office. After catching up with others on my unit, I really miss that moment when you sit down with your coffee (personally, it's iced coffee or tea for me) where you just relax and take [...]

2021-07-31T12:50:20-04:00November 30th, 2020|Family & Youth, Lived Experience, Pandemic|

Helpful Thinking

At seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have concerns about safety, helplessness, feeling unable to cope, guilt, and anger. These feelings are understandable given what we're all going through; but focusing on these negative feelings can make it even harder to cope. It can help to identify the unhelpful thoughts and then redirect your focus to more helpful thoughts. The National Center for PTSD compiled the charts below as a guide for practicing using helpful thoughts. When you're thinking "I am too scared to do anything because I might get infected," or "I'm going to infect others," some alternative helpful thoughts might be "I can gather information, set priorities, adapt my plans, and carry out the most important necessities in ways that are safe." Also remind yourself "I am doing the best I can to keep myself and my family safe," and "I can find ways to express love and be connected in ways that are safe for all of us." Use these tables to identify thoughts you might be having now, and helpful thoughts you can try instead. Practice focusing on more helpful thoughts as often as you can. If you find that you continue to struggle with your mental or emotional health despite making efforts to stay well, help is always available. You can begin by [...]

2021-03-07T14:10:42-05:00October 15th, 2020|Pandemic|

Combating Social Isolation in Children During COVID-19

By Tamra Williams, Ph.D., Deputy Chief Clinical Officer—Children’s Services, Community Behavioral Health, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services For children, one of the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a decrease in opportunities to interact with their peers in traditional and important ways. Restrictions on face-to-face interactions with peers and playmates and more time spent indoors translate, for some children, into stress and frustration that affects their emotional and behavioral health. From a developmental perspective, we know that play and peer interaction is important for young children. It helps with social skills, moral reasoning, and cognitive development. Moreover, children staying home 24/7 can add an additional layer of stress to parents, chipping away at their emotional reserves and ability to parent effectively. How can we combat the loss of playtime and the increased stress on parents?  Routines are important. School provides a consistent routine that is vital for most children. With many schools starting virtually, it will be important to create a consistent schedule for children while learning at home. Make new traditions for the routines that typically happen while preparing for the start of a school year. For example, think about what might be needed for successful online learning experiences when planning for back-to-school shopping with your child. Physical activity is also helpful; try to schedule a [...]

2021-01-02T19:34:59-05:00August 21st, 2020|Family & Youth, Pandemic|

Closing the treatment gap: Time to address inequality within mental health

By Sosunmolu Shoyinka, MD DBHIDS Chief Medical Officer Two months ago, the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services and the City of Philadelphia took the occasion of Mental Health Awareness Month to remind residents -- especially during this difficult and unprecedented time of COVID-19: “You’re not alone. Help is out there.” Much has changed in the national dialogue since early May. And now Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, recognized in July of each year, gives us the opportunity to look more closely at overall mental health awareness -- and focus on the shortcomings of mental health treatment among minority groups. Mental health issues are not limited by race, gender, sexual identity, or anything else. Sadly, data suggest that access to mental health care does have limitations. This is particularly the case for minority populations. Across the United States, minority groups are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care, according to a report from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. They are also disproportionately impacted by socioeconomic determinants such as housing, food and financial insecurity, inadequate health insurance, exposure to violence, unemployment and lower access to quality education. The disproportionate impact of the [...]

2021-01-28T23:04:59-05:00July 7th, 2020|Community, Pandemic, Racial Equality|
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