We had a great discussion on Saturday about some of the mental health and psychological side effects of the COVID-19 shutdown. You can view the video on the City of Carlsbad and Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook pages.
Gary Williams, Associate State Director with the AARP, said that the social isolation experienced by many seniors had the same stress equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. He said a high percentage of our senior population, at a national level, still report suffering from the stresses of social isolation. Seniors also missed opportunities they had been looking forward to during their retirement, he said, and there have also been other issues such as malnutrition.
The COVID-19 shutdowns also caused a number of people in our education and health care industries to take early retirement or pursue other careers. Dr. Gerry Washburn, with Carlsbad Municipal Schools, and Nick Arledge, Carlsbad Medical Center, each talked about professional fatigue. For example, the school district only had to fill 27 vacancies prior to COVID-19, as opposed to 91 in the middle of the pandemic. Many teachers are opting to retire instead of staying for another five years due to all of the additional challenges they are facing. Some health care workers are reporting effects similar to PTSD because so many COVID-19 cases have had such a serious medical effect. Arledge and Washburn also praised the resilience of educators and health care workers who have stepped up in the time of need.
D’Nae Johnson, with Permian Basin Counseling and Deacon Tony Dominguez, with the San Jose Catholic Church, talked some of the difficulties associated with the grieving process and extra stresses on families. Dominguez said the No. 1 way to show support for someone grieving is to be present. Suicide was already one of the leading causes of death for teenagers going into the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson noted, and concern is now even greater.
Overall, the discussion was about balance – how do we balance COVID-19 health concerns with other significant concerns related to isolation and alienation? What resources are available and where do we go from here? This was an important discussion and we hope you’ll go back and listen to what some of our local experts have to say
Thank you to all of our panelists for organizing this event. Thank you as well to Carlsbad Medical Center, Lakeview Christian Home and Permian Basin Counseling & Guidance for helping make the event possible. The event was dedicated to the memory of Janell Whitlock, who served as the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce’s retirement director for many years and helped obtain us obtain our designation as an Age Friendly Community.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway