From left are Mitch Pellerin from Freedom Behavioral; Rotarian Eric Gil; Holly Fontenot, a licensed clinical social worker with Freedom Behavioral; and Rotary President Peter Strawitz. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
The Rotary Club of Ville Platte closed out the month of October by hearing from Holly Fontenot, who is a licensed clinical social worker at Freedom Behavioral here in Ville Platte.
She spoke about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health.
Fontenot said she believes the biggest effect to mental health is the feeling of helplessness. “Part of the feeling is because it’s lasting so long and there is an unknown to it,” she said.
She continued, “Humans don’t like helplessness. We’ll do anything that we can to escape it.”
Some of the ways humans try to escape helplessness are by consuming drugs or alcohol.
Psychologically, according to Fontenot, the pandemic is causing people to see a wide range of emotions such as depression, grief, guilt, general anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, fear, and resentment.
Fontenot went on to share ways to alleviate these emotions.
The first way is turning down the news and social media. But, as she said, “at the same time we need to stay connected. Go back to writing letters or making phone calls and talk to your family or friends.”
Another way to lessen the emotional toll is to “focus on the things we can control,” Fontenot said. “The way to decrease helplessness is to find something you can control and taking care of ourselves.”
Fontenot also provided ways to help others who are hurting emotionally because of the pandemic.
“If you’re trying to help others,” she said, “you just want to listen and not get into debates. Accept what they’re going through and stay calm. Try to figure out what’s important and what they can change, and stay connected to that person.”
A week later, during the first meeting of November, the Rotary Club heard from one of its own as Annette Johnson shared stories of growing up in Ville Platte.