What is the Life Story Perspective?
The Life Story Perspective asserts that we can build a mental narrative about ourselves based on life experiences. But what happens when there’s a serious disruption to that narrative? Take Gary for example. Gary has built his identity around being a successful local business owner for over 20 years. However, Gary’s business couldn’t transition quickly enough to keep up with the wave of changes brought on by Covid-19, and now Gary’s business is closing its doors. This singular life event could ultimately cause Gary to lose control over his perceived narrative, and become a great source of psychological distress. Individuals like Gary seeking treatment for psychiatric conditions “are troubled, not by a disease they have, who they are, or things they do, but by what they have encountered in life” (Peters, Taylor, Lyketsos, Chisolm, 2012). It’s these life events, these moments of trauma, that serve as a catalyst for mental health struggles.
How Life Events Influence Mental Health: A COVID 19 Analysis
The COVID-19 Pandemic has already resulted in worldwide crisis, with deaths in the hundred thousands and lay-offs in the millions. A surge of inpatients has pinned Emergency Care Departments to the ground, demanding hundreds of thousands of overtime hours from exhausted healthcare professionals across the nation. What’s being lost in the shuffle is mental health, as Emergency Department personnel must act as both front-line healthcare workers and comprehensive mental health professionals. These responsibilities are impossible to balance, and the struggle to balance them is taking its toll on both ED personnel and patients alike:
“Meanwhile, the patient — whether suffering from untreated schizophrenia and paranoid delusions, severe depression with suicidal thoughts, or a suicide attempt — must remain in the ED, barraged by loud noises and constant activity, with limited personal freedoms due to concern for their well-being. While there may be no outward signs — no blood loss, abnormal tests, open wounds — all of us in the ED recognize these patients’ pain, suffering, and trauma, yet are powerless to help beyond our realm. We would not let someone with a physical ailment languish for days.” -Prya Mammen – Emergency Physician & Public Health Advocate, Drexel University
Massive shutdowns, virtual schooling and mandatory masks have created polar shifts in the way children and adolescents interact with the world.
The trauma associated with illness, loss, fear and death has taken a toll on millions. Extended shifts and stays in the COVID wing have left nurses and patients scarred.
Tens of millions of job layoffs have occurred around the nation, leaving employees, families and parents stressed, overworked, and, in some cases, desperate.
Main Line Health is far more advanced than most hospitals in Pennsylvania, especially when it comes to psychiatric care in emergency response situations. However, we need your help to better serve the unmet demands of the community.