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The Mind and Mood Matter

Taking care of your mental health in the wake of global collapse

By Linda Lee

There has been insurmountable loss in the last few years, with health at the epicenter of constant concern. Many have suffered from a loss of financial stability, livelihood or, most tragically, the lives of loved ones. 

Much like the process of healing and self-care, loss and grief are incomparable and subjective between individuals. But what about the loss of human connection? Though it can be easily recognized as a concept and is warmly appreciated in the form of a hug, attentive ear, or intimate conversation with a close friend, how does one measure the amount of damage caused by a deficiency in it? And how can anyone know when the right time is to ask for help? Or how to find someone with the capacity to help?

Every person is different, so accounting for a myriad of experiences, preferences, and resources, I will attempt to include the most inclusive options available in the King County area.

Taking a personal journey

Therapy has lost a lot of negative stigma in recent years, with advocates for mental health awareness pushing to make the topic open, honest and shame-free. That aside, therapy is not for everyone. Some might find a personal journey more fulfilling, with meditation, breathing exercises, or physical exercise utilized by many to help relieve stress and cope with anxiety. 

If there is a word for it in the English language, there is almost certainly an app for it too. Refer to the Mental Health Apps tab for a bundle of apps that offer guidance on some personal exercises! 

Looking for guidance: 1 on 1

I’m not going to pretend that the health care system in this country offers any semblance of affordable or reliable therapy options for the many that desperately need it, nor will I pretend low-income insurance companies cover nearly enough for consistent visits to be feasible. 

We all have different coverage, different insurance companies, different needs… 

  • UW Counseling center is hiring 7 new therapists to join their team to help even out the high demand from students with counseling needs.
    • Free to students
    • Intake appointment required (30-45 minutes)
    • Slightly long wait time for individual counseling (for now!)
  • TalkSpace offers online therapy with licensed therapists.
    • Covered or partially covered by many insurance plans
    • Entirely virtual and text/call options available
    • Immediate assistance, but for a price
    • Large network allows you to select therapists based on specialties
  • Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a non-profit in Seattle that aims to provide affordable therapy to those who lack insurance or whose insurance does not provide adequate mental health care benefits. 
    • Lifetime membership cost: $59
    • In-person or online therapy sessions between $30-$60 each
    • Immediate assistance, but for a price
    • Large network allows you to select therapists based on specialties

Looking for guidance: Community

Humans are very social animals. For some, the support of a community can make all the difference when searching for motivation, identifying inner demons, or just looking for human connection. Group therapy is a great opportunity to hear multiple perspectives, grow with people of different backgrounds, and empathize with others. In addition to individual counseling, UW offers students group therapy and workshops on a variety of topics. 

Social connection

In addition to losing or impairing our social lives, we have lost the many tactile forms of greeting: the handshake, high-five and hug. Personally, I don’t mourn the loss of the handshake. I found it weird when people tried too hard, but equally as weird when a hand went limp. They’re dumb.  

Handshakes aside, touching people has become very taboo and terrifying and is avoided as a matter of public safety. But what of the consequences? Many researchers believe that there is a connection between loneliness and a lack of physical contact (Tejada et al, 2020; Mohr et al, 2021).

With in-person classes allowing students to connect with each other and friendship circles being formed, it is only natural that these relationships will eventually evolve into the most intimate kind of interaction amongst platonic individuals: mask-off hangs. There might even be some touching, maybe the handshake will make a comeback. 

Though there are constant drawbacks and spikes that might affect the frequency or group size of such hangs, it is important to remember that the benefits of social connection on mental health can often outway the controlled risks.