The COVID-19 pandemic has, in many ways, put mental health care front and center. There simply was no road map for how to navigate the fear, uncertainty and lifestyle changes the virus thrust at us. Counselors and therapists also found themselves in uncharted waters, addressing patient concerns that perhaps they’ve never had to address before, and often in a remote setting.
Amy Jackson, the ParTNers Center’s newest addition, faced the challenge head on. She believes the lessons we’ve learned, and are still learning, during COVID-19 will serve us well as we move back toward normalcy.
We asked Amy to tell us a little about herself and how she thinks her services can help state employees emerge from the pandemic in a healthy way.
What sparked your interest in counseling?
I grew up in a household with parents who were very dedicated to the community. My mom’s a teacher, and my dad has a lot of civic responsibility. I always knew I wanted to do something to help others. In college, I majored in psychology and decided to become a therapist.
I’ve been in social services for more than 10 years now, serving in a lot of different roles. I’ve mostly worked with survivors of sexual violence and domestic violence. I’m very interested in the impact of trauma on the brain, on our behaviors and how we interact with the world. I’ve also worked with clients suffering from anxiety and depression, as well as people going through life transitions. Most recently, COVID-19 has really brought out the need to talk to someone.
What impact has the COVID-19 crisis had on folks?
That’s a great question. I think the pandemic has shown us that human beings require connection. We’ve tried to maintain that connection, but it’s been hard. When you’re not face to face with people, it’s just not the same. Working from home doesn’t allow for water cooler talk. There’s also this need to be adaptable and flexible, with children at home and work looking so different.
Now we’re starting to return to our pre-COVID lives. But maybe we’ve gotten used to living more isolated. So, we’re facing another huge transition, from limited social interactions to kind of a normal amount. People need a space to process that, and maybe take some good things we’ve learned from COVID-19 into this new phase.
Do you think positive things will come from the COVID-19 struggle?
I like to think positive things come out of most situations. So yes, I think it’s brought some families closer together, and it’s forced some — those who’ve had the privilege to do so -- to slow down and pay more attention to what’s important. I think keeping those insights alive as we transition back is really important.
How can counseling help?
There are so few spaces in life where one can get a completely supportive space to discuss their feelings. Most people have so many responsibilities — kids, work, family — there’s just not a lot of attention paid to taking care of oneself. I always tell my clients, when you can’t pour from an empty cup, counseling allows you to really "fill" your own needs.
What would you say to someone who may be struggling but is hesitant to seek counseling services?
Seeking help when you’re struggling is one of the bravest acts you can take. It’s also one of the most rewarding. Many of my clients have never talked about their feelings to anyone before. So, I always make it a point to start where the person is. I don’t want people to feel like I’m putting them on the spot. I’m there to support and guide. I encourage anyone who is unsure to prioritize themselves. No one else is going to prioritize your needs better than you.
Describe your role at the ParTNers Center.
I’ll offer on-on-one behavioral health visits through the Center, as well as counseling through the ParTNers Employee Assistance Program. I can help with many concerns, from life changes and stress to worries about managing a chronic condition like diabetes.
I’ll lead Lunch & Learns on various topics, and I hope to connect employees with support groups. I’m eager to find out what employees would like to learn, whether it be navigating post-COVID life or ways to integrate mindfulness into their daily life. I’m excited to get to know people and help them reach new levels with their physical and mental health.
Call the ParTNers Center at 615-741-1709 to make an appointment with Amy.