Page 11 - Healthcare News SepOct 2021
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Serving the Pioneer Valley in Western MA since 1953
 Amanda Hichborn says staying home more has benefited people’s health in some ways, but the pandemic has had plenty of negative effects, too.
Alane Burgess, clinic director of the BestLife Emotional Health & Wellness Center at the Mental Health Assoc. (MHA), noted that, while depression and anxiety have increased for all ages, it’s been particularly tough for adolescents, and suicidal thoughts and attempts are on the rise.
“With adolescence, there is a sense of permanency that things won’t change,” Burgess said. “When they experience social isolation, it feels like forever to them.”
Kristy Navarro, a clinical supervisor at MHA, said keeping young people
“Vulnerable groups like disenfranchised people were already struggling with basic needs. Throw the pandemic on top of it, and their
needs are impacted tenfold.”
safe in a pandemic can run counter to how parents raise their kids. “Normally we want our kids to share, but now we’re saying, ‘don’t share,
and don’t touch anything,’” she said. “When we discourage sharing things with friends, it can be a hindrance to the growth and development of young children and adolescents.”
Managing the Stress
Dan Millman agrees that the pandemic has affected young people in unique ways.
“It can be hard for young people who miss rites of passage like graduations and other celebrations and rituals,” he said. “Another part is the social stuff like having fun with friends and being independent. All of that has been much harder to do with the pandemic.”
Millman is the director of ServiceNet’s DBT program, or dialectical behavior therapy, an evidence-based approach to psychotherapy that can be effective with people who are exhibiting self-destructive behaviors.
DBT differs from conventional therapy in that it follows a more structured protocol. The six-month program is designed to give clients the skills to man- age the urges to engage in self-harming behaviors. Millman described four main techniques of DBT:
• Mindfulness, a skill that helps the client focus on healthy coping skills to prevent negative thought patterns and impulsive behavior, and which is integrated throughout DBT techniques;

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