No one could have guessed that COVID-19 would upend life as knew it in March 2020. But we at The Center did realize that the distancing and isolation orders would result in record levels of anxiety, depression and loneliness. We knew we had to adapt if we wanted to make a difference for people facing new social, emotional, economic and livelihood challenges. So from the very outset of the pandemic, we found safe ways to reach the most at-risk populations, even if it was just to give them someone to talk to.
We began by launching Wellness Conversations. These were free 15-to-30-minute telephone conversations with a Licensed Professional Counselor to discuss any issues affecting a person’s wellbeing. Our counselors provided personalized suggestions, shared resources, and arranged for a deeper level of help if needed. We are proud to report that The Center provided over 7,000 Wellness Conversations to our communities!
At the same time, we expanded Tele-Counseling, which provided ongoing counseling services from the comfort of a person’s home. Our professional counselors remotely shared their expertise in every type of counseling just as effectively as they would in person.
We had to get creative to communicate that help was available, especially to seniors susceptible to loneliness and to parents of young children under new stresses without school. So we partnered with Meals On Wheels, school districts and senior centers to distribute resources to seniors and parents.
Knowing the sudden loss of loved ones so many were experiencing, we continued offering grief support via bereavement counseling and support groups. These became critical outlets of exploration and healing. We are still helping many people process their grief, connect with others and move toward healing.
Next, we sought to provide relief to our courageous healthcare workers on the frontlines of COVID-19. Through our Music Wellness program, The Center brought the therapeutic power of live, relaxing music to over 1,500 hospital staff and patients. We also provided more than 6,000 free counseling sessions to healthcare workers, helping them cope with any issues they faced. The reductions in burnout, fatigue and stress were tremendous. As one nurse told us, “I had an incredible time at my debriefing session. I cried my eyes out and I needed that. When we were in the height of a day’s stress, we knew someone cared about us, too.”
Read through these initiatives again and think about the tens of thousands of lives we touched when they most needed a caring voice. Think about the ripple effect these programs are having by improving the mental health of so many. Remember that you are our partner in these achievements, so thank you! The pandemic is not over and we remain vigilant, adaptive and ready to serve. Many more exciting programs and initiatives are on The Center’s horizon in 2021. We hope you’ll help us promote and celebrate every one of them.