“I know there are great needs, but I do not know what to do. I want to help those who are suffering from economic stress” stated a Taos resident.
”There is definitely an increase in suicidal thoughts,” stated a Taos Behavioral Health (TBH) Clinician this week. “And there are unique challenges with every age and all circumstances.”
These quotes are two voices from our community.
Current Services at TBH
We are serving many families and parents at TBH and almost all of our clients feel anxious, fearful and often overwhelmed. Many of them are experiencing severe economic stress. If parents are fortunate enough to still be working, they are lucky to have adequate childcare. They usually return home and take on a teacher’s role with children often frustrated and not keeping up with their schoolwork. For everyone—there is a need to learn new skills in a time of great stress. And the financial fears are huge.
Often adults have no time for self-care—or attending to those activities that may support their mental health. If they are working out of the home, they fear bringing the virus home to their family. Seeing a clinician can be the only place where realistic goals can be set, where their needs are heard, and they can feel empathy and love for themselves.
As another TBH clinician commented, “We have never been through this level of national crisis before. We have to be wise about what we expect of ourselves and others.” The successful therapeutic process involves learning new skills and creating new patterns to heal and grow. Often this means new habits and perhaps new friends or changes in the relationship to friends. Now with the isolation of current state and federal health restrictions, many clients feel such changes are difficult. So, the goals of therapy may be different.
In multi-generation households, a stated goal of changing negative intergenerational patterns can seem almost impossible. If the family is not truly safe for its members, there is often no place to escape to. And the court system is backed up—so clients who are fulfilling an order to complete therapy find that the courts cannot yet make a decision to validate their changes.
Many single parents are unemployed with little hope of jobs opening up again. While they say the time with their children is uniquely valuable it also comes with high stress. Children at home are often expected to be well behaved ALL the time in the presence of their parent.
As another example of what’s happening, early adolescents can legally stay at home alone but cannot yet drive to escape and do not have the logical brain patterns to understand the circumstances affecting everyone. This developmental stage is very dependent on social connections to friends which are now greatly reduced. Zoom is generally used only for schoolwork and the phone is a lifeline until it is removed as punishment for some misbehavior—often related to keeping up with schoolwork.
A Call for Community Assistance
Here at TBH we are all fully employed providing direct mental health services to support our clients. We know that great family economic needs cannot be fulfilled by our staff. In particular, winter is coming and families who are homeless or have inadequate housing need warmer clothing and home furnishings.
We are looking for volunteers who would be willing to accept contributed items, inspect them for usability, provide descriptions and an organized system of storage so that TBH staff could help clients obtain items they desperately need.
In our village—it is one way we can care for others. It is one way we can make a difference. It is surely a gift for the giver.
Please call us at 575-758-4197 if you feel you can help.
Taos Behavioral Health has the largest licensed and credentialed mental health staff in northern New Mexico. We can be reached at 575-758-4297 or www.taosbehavioralhealth.org or for scheduled appointments at 105 Bertha Street in Taos.
Mary McPhail Gray in the board chair of TBH and can be reached at 575-779-3126 or McPhailconsulting@gmail.com