By Michael Hernandez
THOUSAND OAKS—“We ae just at the tip of the iceberg,” said Psychologist Dr. Shannae Anderson as she spoke to the Citizens Journal on Friday referring to COVID-19 deaths due to unemployment, anxiety-anger-depression, addictions, domestic violence, child abuse and suicide. “The first phase of COVID-19 has been people in fight, flight and freeze mode. We have all been holding our breath for the last two months. Now, we are taking an exhale.
“Where have we been financially hit? Where are we on the emotional scale? Have we stepped on (weight) scales? What are more of the long-term effects? Our body and brain work together. When we’re in that survival mode we care for our bodies. We tend to think of physical health before mental health. We have been in that constant state of unknown terror: Am I going to die?
“The mental health effects have taken second fiddle. No one has been talking about the mental health effects. We think we are okay because we are surviving.
“Domestic violence and child abuse all begin in our homes in our secret hideaways where we don’t know what other people are really doing—our place of secret sin. We can be doing anything behind closed doors.
“Drinking and drug use is increasing, so is online pornography, online video gaming, compulsory eating, cannabis is up as is alcohol usage. We don’t want to feel because it is too overwhelming. The longer this goes on, the longer we will use these coping strategies.”
“We have not yet seen the increase in domestic violence or in child abuse because we are locked in our houses with the perpetuators. Domestic violence is reported by a victim but not when the perpetuator is right there. Life would be endangered. Child abuse is usually reported in the schools. We can’t see this because schools are closed. We will not see child abuse reports until kids go back to schools. We know there is an increase in alcohol use because of alcohol sales. This is usually tied to child abuse and domestic violence.
“What we have is a powder keg and the general population will not see the data for months, if ever.” During Godspeak’s “Fireside Chat” episode 37, Dr. Anderson shared numbers:
- We have seen a 900 percent increase of calls to crisis hot lines
- 97 percent of domestic violence is reported by the victim
- Domestic violence has tripled in China
- Domestic violence has risen by 40 percent in France
- Domestic violence has risen by 30 percent in New Zealand
“If people don’t have a way of coping with frustration or anger they can abuse a spouse, partner, or child. There is a challenge to see the abused, battered and violated which predominaelyis women and children. They have no way to escape—no way to get help—no one safe to talk to about this.
What are the solutions?
“Facts can ground the mind in a way that it can calm the brain. Hearing the truth of what is happening can create a sense of calm for an individual but there are such contradictory numbers and messages out there. We hear, we are doing great that the curve has flatten but…what is really happening here?
“We are craving camaraderie with our work fellows, at the gym, with other moms to help us with our raw emotions. We need to get real and give validation and hope. We are emotionally sick because our hope is deferred.”
“The key difference to other traumas we have walked through before such as the fires and Borderline shooting, earthquakes and things like that is the key difference we had community to get through this together and create meaning and to heal each other and we don’t have that now.
“There is one thing you can always do when we are scared and you feel like we are driving on the freeway 115 miles per hour and we are flying: It is actually take a deep breath. When we are nervous we are not getting full inhalations. This is a simple technique we can all do. Take a deep breath in and out. Take another breath in and out. You now will be able to manage things.
“You can also meditate on God’s word. His peace can envelope you in less than a minute. When you get still with all those emotions and be still with the Lord knowing that He is God. There is comfort in that relationship.”
Dr. Shannae Anderson ended the “Fireside Chat” by praying for those watching.
(Editor’s Note: To view the nightly Godspeak “Fireside Chat” go to godspeak.com and enter Godspeak Livestream and access YouTube. Individuals seeking mental health assistance can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or can go to the National Alliance for Mental Health Illness (NAMI) at www.nami.org or those seeking assistance for various addictions can go to: We Connect Recovery at www.weconnectrecovery.com.)
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].