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Mental Health Wellness in a Post Pandemic World – Questions and Answers Discussed During the Webinar

 

On September 15, 2021, BIS Research executed a webinar on ‘Mental Health Wellness in a Post Pandemic World’ with esteemed speakers Laura Scarrone Bonhomme, Head of Mental Health Services, U.K. and Ireland, Teledoc Health, and Clive Michelsen, CEO of My-E-Health AB.

During the webinar, several questions were asked, and our speakers shared their thoughts and several insights while answering them. Following is a compilation of some of the questions that were discussed during the webinar.

Question: The biggest issue and probably a rather subdued one is that children have been facing a lot of difficulty in expressing themselves. They can't do that with their parents and act as carefree as they can with their peer group. What can be done to alleviate this? Even if parents act as friends, there's still a sustained level of comfort that the child has with people of the same age. What can be done?

Laura: The children are going to start developing within themselves. We hear this, but we know this is a long distance from what we say, but as an only child, I had a lot of that. When you are an only child, you spend a lot of time with yourself. You learn to think and entertain yourself. I think the parents should be the key aspect in supporting that. And, then of course there is going to be a period of adaptation by which you know coming back to how their old life used to be. They will have to adapt to, feeling perhaps a little bit more anxious than they would if they have been around their friends all this time, however the global pandemic has shifted the interaction of children to virtual mode . So, I think being honest with your children about how the pandemic affects you at times, for instance about how it has been delightful for you to be at home. Be open with themwith them so that they can be open with you. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be their friends. You can put boundaries on them as those are necessary for preventing them from being spoilt.

Clive: The online environment which we are in is a fantastic environment. Most of the kids are growing up with iPad and these kinds of things are helping them to interact with their friends. I believe a system like Teladoc and ehealth has an interactive system where children can gear and get the needed support if they feel they are being bullied or that things aren’t right for them. They should be talking to their parents and teachers, but sometimes these things fall through the crack, and they don’t help. We could have a system online that can measure dyslexia. Some of the complications like Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and things like these could be measured and be supported online. Unfortunately, this is up to the government and charities out there to figure out how they would like to support an environment like ours to help children because usually, the schools don’t have the money to do that.

Question: What are the challenges in implementing digital mental health offerings for the masses in emerging countries?

Clive: Well, the challenge is to create the awareness and interest.. Unfortunately, when you are going to the public, it requires the deep pocket expense and a lot of advertising. It also requires an informational channel where these solutions can be delivered to the public . The news, media, and communications need to spread around the world to ensure this is the place where you can go and get help. Also, till the time the information is actually spread logically and effectively around the world and especially in the low-income areas, it’s going to remain a problem then that is going to be very difficult. We have some companies that have created an e-health room for our employees. This means that when they come to work, there is an actual e-health room that they can go into and connect with solution providers , which is private, and they can go there, and it is just normal for everybody to come to the e-health room. Why? because it is just a come-up place, and everybody gets the cordial cordial feedback whether the person is sick or not. It is cordial feedback with the health coach. So, it is normal to see people coming in and out of that room. Thus, it's not stigmatized in any way. Hence, opening e-health booths all over is a solution where people can go and is made available for them. We are in a fantastic time of life where opportunities are just enormous in order to the demand and need is just beyond way our abilities.

Laura:. The national health service in the U.K. is one of the mental health condition services with apps and requiredigital ports. So, suppose if a person did not have means like a mobile phones or internet connectivity to access. In that case, the therapy could come into the hospital and the person could have the moment of privacy and have a word with their psychologists.

Question: Can you provide us some suggestions on maintaining a work-life balance?

Laura: I think listening to oneself is the most important thing. We are so good at ignoring things that ache or bother us, thinking it is better not to say something. So, I mean they limit the boundaries of your life. You can stop it, reduce it, acknowledge your limits, and that you are not meant to be a machine. Breathe in twice a day just for few minutes to slow down. If you want to eat a little bit more, have that. Do all the things that make you feel good and take control of them.

Clive: The most important thing I would like to mention here is to enjoy what you are doing. If you are in a situation and you are very uncomfortable, try to improve that situation and empower yourself to try doing that out of that situation. Self-awareness is also an important factor. If you don’t have self-awareness, half of the problems can be there, so if self-awareness is there that means you are at least aware of the things. What things are important? The things that are important to you be it friends, family, and socializing. It defines the balance. There is a Sweden saying, “Lagom,” which says do things in proportion. If you like what you are doing, do it in proportions and find a balance, and it is not too much of anything.

Question Which areas can mental health care service providers focus on in deciding their offerings in the future?

Clive: Mental health arena is just a fantastic arena. I believe the future is going to have virtual reality, augmented reality, avatars, treatment rooms for people, specially designed treatment rooms for people with PTSD, and also with other types of stress, and you can take people to within these environments and physically bond with an avatar and with a human interacting within this environment to practice certain things. I think that is going to be an excellent development for mental health in the future. We need more people in this business, so people should get into mental health. More schools should teach about wellbeing and inclusion of CBT and all the other branches of nutrition together.

Laura: I don’t know how the future is going to be. Something that worries me about the future is how we are going to go with technology. How technology will change us that is certainly going to like someone who works five days a week in front of a laptop I know it is changing. So, I am just curious as a person.

Question: Could you please elaborate on the challenges faced by the clinical therapist during the pandemic. What are the ways you could suggest in overcoming them?

Laura: This new reinforcement on how we support each other as practitioners as Teladoc we emphasize having those spaces starting to develop peer supervision group; we have weekly meetings; we reach out to each other in teams. For me, it's such an interesting experience as well you know where some webinars really interesting about digital body language so I know okay I know how to put myself in front of the camera but that was nothing about how we use language to communicate emotions and to form groups digitally. So, I think we are learning this way keeping a sense of belonging within teams helps. Also, to have support if the practitioner has a difficult session, they can just immediately send an email to chat with me. You have a moment of a brief of connecting to what you feel and also regular breaks in between clients. So, ensure that they have time to relax and ground themselves that we encourage our clients to do and be open to the next person that comes.

Clive: The interventions we do weekly in a multi-modal team and team whichever team you might be in because that could vary person in the team. You can bring up issues and challenges you might have as a therapist or psychologist, or health coach by having that support within a team that you might not learn. Even though you might be remote, one person might be in the Arctic, and another person in Antarctica, you would still be able to have the intervention with each other where you can exchange knowledge with the person. However, when it comes to the patient’s side, that is also quite important and provides the environment for the patient is important to that environment, they can access the visual cortex. Providing an environment for the patients is very important which makes us feel good as we want to see that happen.

Question: While it is great to define mental health in positive ways, what about emphasizing the positive side of mental health solutions to the many challenges of increasing mental illness?

Clive: When people take the analysis with us, we do not provide anyone with risk analysis until we meet them online. They can see the primary results, but they can’t see how that leads to risk exposure to burnout. For instance, whether a person is moderately exposed to burnout or is at high risk, or does he/she has a high risk of anxiety and these kinds of things. Therefore, the risk levels that we assess we don’t want to share with patients as we don’t want to make them sick. We want to make the patients better. The unfortunate thing with cognitive distortion is that you can have a catastrophizer, especially if you want to talk about CBT. Say, if you have a patient coming in and he/she catastrophize, and you don’t know myth yet and they see too much data and too much stuff from these apps that do not have validity and reliability so they automatically see this stuff they will make worse out of the scenario. So, this is our responsibility as psychologists, psychotherapists or health coaches to make sure that you can ease somebody into a solution. Therefore, we have to find a solution that best fits them without leading them down and making things worse because sometimes people are happy in denial, and they don’t want to come out of that. Still, it depends on how that affects the environment that they are in.

Laura: It is such a key skill to have that how much can you mirror to the person what is happening currently in their life and how honest can you be with them at the moment so that they can take it. It is a very delicate art, and fortunately, we have the tools to evaluate it. We have the people to make the conversations when we need to update see this is the progress of how things are affecting you.

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