After the Pandemic: Mental Health, School Effects and Affects in Development

I’ve been writing about the pandemic off and on since 2020. I was a sociology minor at Indiana University, and the study of groups is pretty fascinating to me.

I live in Texas, and was recently in Indiana for just over a week. I was in a hospital setting for much of that time, and sometimes needed to wear a mask.

For me, wearing a mask is hard. I have asthma and I wear glasses, which tend to fog when I wear a mask.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that when I listen, I read lips. I can hear fine, but just watch as people talk and use that as an additional listening device.

With masks now being two and a half years into our lives, I’ve gotten quite used to having one with me. I carry one in my purse, and usually have more than one in case I misplace one or need to purify one of them.

I’ve noticed that in the private practice where I work, people sometimes wear a mask in the waiting area the first time that I meet them. I let them know that I will wear a mask during our session if they would like, but that masks are not required in our offices.

Some,well most, people choose that time to take their mask off.

I also listen with my face, which the mask does a really good job of covering up. It makes my role as a therapist quite a bit harder, eliminating one of my tools I use to indicate that I am listening and hearing what is being said.

I rarely meet people who have not had COVID at some point these days, and most of those who have not tested positive have chosen not to test when they have had colds, making it hard to know whether they have or haven’t had it.

Some people have very traumatic stories about the pandemic. These include having loved ones who did not survive, stories of not being able to see those who were or are close to them, and other traumas that have occurred either before or during the past couple of years.

What I’m noticing in large social settings is that athletic events have gone back to being crowded, largely attended events. Airplanes seem to be full, and the broadway shows which I am fortunate enough to get to go to have a mixture of those who do wear and do not wear masks.

I enjoy a crowd, as it allows me to observe how others interact. When we all wore masks, or did not even participate in social public settings, that was something that I really missed.

As I listen during therapy to people talk about their experiences with pre-schoolers, those experiencing elementary school, and teens in high school, I wonder about how the pandemic has affected each of these age groups

For example, pre-schoolers I know were about 2 when the world shut down for a bit.

Most did not attend day care or pre-school for that time period, and are now attending structured socialization. For some, this transition has been fairly easy.

For others, they are a bit behind in reading, potty training, or learning to interact with peers.

For children who are in elementary school, they spent an amount of time learning from home.

Some of them continued to learn at home until 2021 or 2022, while others returned to in-person school as soon as Fall, 2020.

One thing I notice is a quick anger response in some kids.

Some of those who become angry quickly have done this since birth or soon after. Others may be beginning puberty, or close to it, and may be showing more extreme emotions than they did previously. Others may be struggling with changes and transitions occurring in their lives.

We cannot take away the pandemic we all experienced, so there is no control group for this time period.

High school kids had some of their adolescence in early stages of the pandemic, and each individual and family is different with how they responded to guidelines and their own feelings of safety.

My own children graduated from college at the start of the pandemic, so have started their adult lives with a different experience than any of us who were already adults in 2020 did.

I’ve heard some teens talk about milestone events, and their feelings about that.

I’ve talked with parents who had teens determining what to do after high school last year, and working to figure out whether to attend a four year school or to attend a community college.

As you think about yourself, your children, or those you work with, what comes to mind as you think about your experiences since March, 2020?

What gains are you making in taking care of yourself, in terms of setting boundaries with others socially and at work?

What health changes have you made, including talk therapy for yourself, your child or children; or eating differently than before?

Stay as healthy as you can, and take care of yourself as you are able.

Also, don’t forget to move.

Published by terriparke

I have an MA in Community Counseling and a BS in Psychology. I like to provide mental health talk therapy, write, and consult. I'm an Indiana girl at heart, both the state and the University. My 20 something twin sons and older than 40 husband could tell you more-Happy reading!

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