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 | Maggie Snow

Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Pandemic


*The names have been changed to protect the identities of the people.

Everyone has felt the stress of the global pandemic. However, some individuals have found that the fear and anxiety surrounding the disease have become overwhelming. Social distancing and working from home can result in feelings of isolation and loneliness. The Counseling Services of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet, are working hard to provide support and relief for those who are struggling with the challenges of the pandemic.

Adriana*, 20, is a college student who connected with Catholic Charities’ Counseling Services because she was experiencing anxiety, academic stress, and relationship struggles. Paired with a Master’s-level social worker, Adriana’s treatment goals were to develop strong coping skills and positive thinking. With therapy, Adriana began making progress.

In March, Adriana began to regress due to the pandemic. Her college classes moved to remote learning and she no longer had face-to-face contact with her classmates. Unemployed, Adriana often felt preoccupied with financial concerns. Stress created additional conflicts with family members. Adriana found herself unable to control her negative thinking and anxiety.

As the stay-at-home order extended beyond initial projections, Adriana longed for a return to her normal life. She missed socializing with friends, but also found herself avoiding contact with them due to anxiety. Although in-person therapy sessions were suspended due to the pandemic, an executive order allowed for expanded telehealth (phone and online) mental health services. Catholic Charities was able to continue providing counseling to at-risk, low-income clients safely with these methods. Adriana was relived to continue seeing her therapist online.

Determined to overcome her struggles, Adriana worked in-session and even completed therapeutic homework. She gained coping skills that reduced her anxiety. As Adriana continued to grow, she found a new job which she enjoys. Her confidence improved, and Adriana discovered COVID-safe and creative ways to socialize with her friends again.

Adriana is pleased with her success in counseling and plans to continue in order to strengthen her new skills. She also appreciates the support she receives in her sessions. Adriana’s therapist believes that she will soon be ready to complete her sessions and enjoy the lifelong skills she gained from Catholic Charities’ counseling.

Michael*, 9, began receiving counseling from Catholic Charities when his parents had concerns about his behavior. He experienced anxiety, depressive mood and behavioral difficulties at his childcare program.

Michael was assigned to a licensed clinical professional counselor with specialized training and certifications in early childhood development. It was determined that the best way to help Michael was with cognitive behavior therapy and therapeutic play activities focused on the development of self-regulation skills. Michael’s mother also received education to provide the skills she needed to better support her son’s special needs.

The stress and routine changes caused by the pandemic were difficult for Michael to manage. During telehealth counseling sessions, he has learned coping skills to deal with the many recent transitions, including e-learning, changes in childcare, and missing his friends. The therapist developed creative strategies to keep Michael engaged during sessions.

Today, Michael’s mother reports that he has improved. He is getting along well with his siblings, and his behavior at childcare is also much better. She is grateful for the concepts she learned from his therapist, which have helped her understand and support him. Due to his progress and success, Michael and his therapist have begun the process of discontinuing treatment.

To learn more about Catholic Charities’ Counseling Services, visit Special accommodations can be made to individuals and families who are struggling financially. To make an appointment, please call 815-723-0331.

*Client names have been changed to protect privacy.

Catholic Charities’ counseling clients made the following choices for telehealth sessions during the pandemic:

  • 42 percent phone therapy.
  • 45 percent online video therapy.
  • 13 percent declined care until the return of face-to-face services.

Benefits of telehealth therapy:

  • Time, expense, and effort of travel to office eliminated.
  • No childcare needed.
  • Decreased wait times.
  • More flexibility.
  • Safe during the pandemic.