June is PTSD Awareness Month; Judson Center Behavioral Health Director looks at trigger points of new COVID-19-induced mental health issues - Judson Center

June is PTSD Awareness Month; Judson Center Behavioral Health Director looks at trigger points of new COVID-19-induced mental health issues

Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications; barbara@eafocus.com

Farmington Hills,  Mich. — June 11, 2020— –Judson Center, a multi-county human service agency providing autism programs, foster care and adoption in tandem with its affiliate, Child Safe Michigan, employment services for persons with disabilities, integrated primary healthcare for all ages, and behavioral health services as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC), is addressing the topic of PTSD during June’s PTSD awareness month in a new light in the wake of COVID-19.

Melissa Peters, MA, LPC, NCC, Judson Center’s Director of Behavioral Health Services, says Judson Center clinicians are attuned to the potential for PTSD-like symptoms among their patients as the nation comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The fear wrought by the pandemic is going to be with us for a while, and our behavioral health specialists will be on the lookout for signs of post-pandemic trauma,” Peters said. “The symptoms will vary, but we are already seeing some higher levels of anxiety, which will increase in degree for those who personally had COVID-19 or had one or more family members who died from the illness.”

Peters listed some of the signs of potential COVID-19 PTSD:

  • Avoidance entering work facilities, even with appropriate precautions in place
  • Heightened fear of COVID-19 because of a personal connection to death or extreme illness of a loved one who had it
  • Detaching from others
  • Lack of trust in others out of fear that they are not following safety guidelines/protocols
  • Having negative thoughts of the world or the work environment
  • High level of stress/anxiety with integrating back to work
  • Experiencing emotional distress when thinking about leaving home
  • For those that have experienced loss, added grief, sadness, and memories of the experience
  • Flashback type fears associated with constant news coverage about the ravages of COVID-19

Peters says the pandemic has further polarized the workplace, which will create new challenges for employees adjusting to back-to-work environments.

“Polarized opinions on the seriousness of the pandemic can lead to a division among staff at any type of workplace and can fracture a team approach that may have previously been strong,” Peters said.  “Every individual brings their personal experiences they bring to the workplace. For those in healthcare, it can be even more difficult in the era of COVID-19 because the field requires putting others first and leaving ‘our own stuff’ at the door.”

For some healthcare workers and therapists who come into close contact with patients, there may be concern over their own personal health.

“It will not be unusual for some workers in the health care field to have trust or anxiety issues when it comes to meeting patients face to face,” Peters said. “There may be a lingering doubt as to whether individuals are following safety guidelines and protocols as closely as the workers themselves are. That being said, these professionals are trained to separate their own issues from those they serve, and that is an invaluable skill in today’s environment. They selected a field that requires them to care for others, so most are able to push through their own fear and anxiety to do that.”

Getting ahead of the issue, Judson Center’s Behavioral Health supervisory team has been facilitating weekly virtual ‘support groups’ during the pandemic for staff to address the new challenges therapists and healthcare workers in general may face.

Judson Center provided behavioral health services to nearly 1,100 individuals and families in 2019. Services provided in its Warren clinic include individual, family and group therapy using evidence-based practices; psychiatric services, case management, and peer support. Areas of specialty include children and young adults with autism, families involved with foster care and adoption systems, individuals with concurrent mental illness and substance use disorder, and children with severe emotional challenges. Judson Center works in collaboration with outside providers such as primary care physicians, the legal system and schools to ensure comprehensive treatment of the whole person.

Judson Center’s Behavioral Health programs in Warren are integrated with the organization’s primary care practice, Judson Center Family Health. Both will continue to offer virtual visit options even after Michigan’s full re-opening.


About Judson Center

Judson Center, trusted by Michigan families for more than 95 years, is a non-profit human service agency that provides expert, comprehensive services that strengthen children, adults and families impacted by abuse and neglect, autism, developmental, behavioral and physical health challenges so they can achieve whole health, well-being, and maximum potential. Judson Center also offers integrated primary healthcare for all through Judson Center Family Health in Warren. Since opening its doors in 1924, Judson Center has grown to change the lives of over 12,000 children, adults, and families each year. Judson Center has offices in Genesee, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Headquarters are located at 30301 Northwestern Highway, Suite 100, Farmington Hills, MI 48334-3277.  Learn more at https://www.judsoncenter.org/.