“Covid-19: Mental Health in the Era of Physical Illness”

In this time of “social distancing,” we don’t have to sacrifice emotional closeness.  It is unfortunate the term “social distancing” is being used to describe what is actually physical distancing. We can still socialize without touch or physical proximity because we have social media at the time we need it most.

While there is no substitute for human touch, some people are experiencing a kind of emotional closeness they hadn’t experienced in person.  For instance, friends who used to go to dinner regularly for years say that during virtual dinners over the internet they notice nuances in the facial expressions of their friends that they hadn’t noticed before. In-person dinners, by comparison, were typically interrupted by the chatter of the crowd, the music, and each of them going on their devices.  But with virtual dinners, they are on the same device, facing each other up close, and they are experiencing new aspects of intimacy with old friends. They notice subtle, delightful, lively changes in the faces, the eyes, and the gestures of their virtual dinner companions.  This social experience, inadvertently brought to them by “social distancing,” has enhanced their appreciation of the good people in their lives.

The Covid-19 blogs are my general reflections, as I do telehealth counseling over the internet during a time when physical distancing restrictions prohibit office visits. As a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, I, and my telehealth counseling colleagues, are learning how people cope psychologically while “sheltering in place” or quarantining in their homes. Whether people are living by themselves or in families, whether they have contracted the virus or know someone who has, we’re learning what helps them emotionally.

While this first blog about coping in the era of Covid-19 is lighthearted, future blogs will also deal with more serious topics such as loss. The highest standards of confidentiality will be maintained in the writing and posting of blogs. These blogs are general statements, not observations about any individual person and not directed toward any one person. These blogs are posted on my website to help my clients cope during this traumatic time.

Disclaimer: A blog is not a substitute for direct treatment of mental and physical health issues.  It is merely an opinion which may prompt you to attend to symptoms with licensed mental and physical health professionals. It is based on my current experience doing telehealth counseling and my past years of experience doing face-to-face counseling in my office.

For more information about the author of this blog, Mike Fatula, MS, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, (#15257), please visit his website at mikefatulatherapy.com.