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by Dr. Brad Schwall
| Trauma, Stress, Relationships, COVID-19, Corona Virus, Racism, Protests

From Challenge to Opportunity

Crisis and challenge can lead to new perspectives, ideas, solutions, and actions.

There is a strong sense of heaviness right now. Even though we are getting back to our offices, school and regular activities, there is anxiety about the increasing numbers of those with COVID-19. We struggle with understanding the current events related to race while trying to grasp where we go from here.

Yet, there is conversation about change. Society is looking at how we can improve.

There is increasing research into post-traumatic-growth – resilience that can come out of the processing of trauma and crisis. Crisis and challenge can lead to new perspectives, ideas, solutions, and actions.

Taking action to learn about what is happening, learn about racism and finding ways to get involved is an important way to turn grief and trauma into action. When we feel helpless, we can turn our stress or our grief into action that can actually help our community. I attended a prayer rally recently and it was fantastic to hear ideas for specific ways to contribute.

There is much negativity all around us and on social media. We can discern what is constructive while respecting anger about injustice that needs to be addressed. It’s certainly important to be discerning about our social media diet. On social media, we can model respect and monitor what we are exposing ourselves to, and then find good information.

Mental health continues to be a focal point. In the news, we hear discussion that racism is a public health issue. Mental health is a health issue, and racism leads to trauma. The systemic issues related to racism and poverty have led to disparity in mental healthcare access. We need to be focused on how mental health does relate to all that is happening. We can do this by de-stigmatizing mental health and counseling. Working across communities to raise awareness will help us see how we all experience relational and emotional challenges. Working on equity in access to counseling and psychological services ensures that everyone has the opportunity to receive care. Well-being among children, teens and adults is crucial to stability and security in communities.

We also hear discussion surrounding police reform involving getting social workers involved to help in calls that involve mental illness and substance use. Addressing mental health as it relates to criminal justice can solve many problems. Training on mental illness for first responders is essential.

As you witness so much turmoil, monitor your own stress. Have empathy for others. Try to understand others beyond only your own experience and viewpoint. Look for how you can be involved. Respect all. Turn a crisis into action and growth.

And finally, Micah 6:8 offers guidance very relevant to today: “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.”

By acting for what is right, focusing on kindness in every interaction and being humble, we can connect and work together for healthier families and communities. Times like these require us to reflect, think and act. From this crisis, we can find hope and a bright future.

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