September was Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This past Saturday, we observed World Mental Health Day. Both events seek to raise awareness of mental health and mobilize efforts of support.

With everyday stresses now intensified by COVID-19, it’s important to promote suicide prevention awareness, especially among essential caregivers. This includes emergency room physicians, nurses, mental health professionals, emergency services workers, first responders, home-health aids and people providing primary care for a family member.

Statistics of despair
COVID-19 has taken its toll. Even prior to the pandemic, the nation’s suicide rate had reached its highest level since World War II. According to a study by the CDC, 41 percent of all adults struggled with mental health issues or substance abuse this past June.

The emotional and psychological impact of the pandemic and its resulting fallout has contributed to feelings of hopelessness and despair. This mental strain is especially difficult for frontline caregivers, who are working in crowded, high-risk, pressure-cooker environments.

The persistent anxiety can cause them to feel burned out, frustrated and overwhelmed. Along with the fear and anxiety of being infected themselves, they may also second guess themselves when patients die.

There’s good news: Teletherapy is becoming more accessible for those seeking mental health treatment. Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and counselors now provide remote therapy and support. This shift toward teletherapy started even prior to the pandemic.

For many essential caregivers, this help is available through company-sponsored employee assistance programs, or EAPs. It’s also free and confidential.

The importance of hope
In a world where things seem desperate in the face of uncertainty, there is nothing wrong with hope.

The concept of hope has been recognized throughout history. For example, Roman statesman Cicero made this observation in 63 BC: “While there’s life, there is hope.”

In 1945, author and holocaust survivor Victor Frankl discussed the importance of hope in Man’s Search for Meaning. He noticed that those prisoners who focused on the possibility of seeing a separated loved one had better chances of survival:

“Other things being equal, those apt to survive the camps were those oriented toward the future—toward a task, or a person, waiting for them in the future, toward a meaning to be fulfilled by them in the future.”

According to Frankl, finding meaning in life is what gives us hope. He identified three main ways to find this meaning:

  • By making a difference in the world through our actions, our work, our creations.
  • By experiencing truth or beauty or encountering someone, especially someone we love.
  • By adopting a courageous and exemplary attitude in situations of unavoidable suffering.

He also wrote about the importance of choice: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

That freedom of choice can never be taken away. There are always choices. What do you choose?

ATTENTION ESSENTIAL CAREGIVERS: Where would we be without you? Be mindful that through your service to humanity, your actions, your skills, your listening, your consoling, your guiding, your encouragement, your advocating, your connecting, informing, teaching, supporting, it is you who provide hope. When you’re in need of hope, please know that help is available.

FEI’s crisis management and employee assistance programs are designed to meet the needs and recovery efforts of individuals, community groups and families following any kind of crisis event. We have helped in pandemics, natural disasters, terrorist acts and mass casualty accidents affecting anywhere from one individual to scores of people.

Consult with an FEI account representative today to learn more about developing resilience, planning, preparation, response and recovery for traumatic incidents.