Friday, December 17, 2021

Last Call For Counseling The Counselors

America's mental health care professionals are drowning in patients as we enter Pandemic Year 3. Just as the nation's hospitals are overrun with COVID patients, social workers, counselors, clinical psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists are overloaded to the point of turning people who truly need help away.
As Americans head into a third year of pandemic living, therapists around the country are finding themselves on the front lines of a mental health crisis. Social workers, psychologists and counselors from every state say they can’t keep up with an unrelenting demand for their services, and many must turn away patients — including children — who are desperate for support.

“All the therapists I know have experienced a demand for therapy that is like nothing they have experienced before,” said Tom Lachiusa, a licensed clinical social worker in Longmeadow, Mass. “Every available time slot I can offer is filled.”

The New York Times asked 1,320 mental health professionals to tell us how their patients were coping as pandemic restrictions eased. General anxiety and depression are the most common reasons patients seek support, but family and relationship issues also dominate therapy conversations. One in four providers said suicidal thoughts were among the top reasons clients were seeking therapy.

“I regularly wished aloud for a mental health version of Dr. Fauci to give daily briefings,” said Lakeasha Sullivan, a clinical psychologist in Atlanta. “I tried to normalize the wide range of intense emotions people felt; some thought they were truly going crazy.”

The responses to our survey, sent by Psychology Today to its professional members, offer insights into what frontline mental health workers around the country are hearing from their clients. We heard from mental health providers in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. (You can learn more about how we conducted our survey at the end of this article.)

While there were moments of optimism about telemedicine and reduced stigma around therapy, the responses painted a mostly grim picture of a growing crisis, which several therapists described as a “second pandemic” of mental health problems.

“There is so much grief and loss,” said Anne Compagna-Doll, a clinical psychologist in Burbank, Calif. “One of my clients, who is usually patient, is experiencing road rage. Another client, who is a mom of two teens, is fearful and doesn’t want them to leave the house. My highly work-motivated client is considering leaving her career. There is an overwhelming sense of malaise and fatigue.”

The mental health effects of a multi-year pandemic are just starting to be understood, and it's going to take years, if not decades, to treat the country's serious emotional issues.

We're burned out, folks. We need help.

Help is in short supply.  Take some time out of your day to be nice to yourself and to others. We all need to pitch in.

Ukraine On The Membrane, Con't

The situation in Ukraine just got exponentially worse on Friday. With thousands of Russian troops, tanks, and vehicles on the Ukraine border, Russian President Vladimir Putin is making public his list of demands from NATO and President Biden.

Russia outlined on Friday its demands for a sweeping new security arrangement with the West in Eastern Europe, with the most far-reaching request a written guarantee that NATO will not expand farther east toward Russia and will end all military activity in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

The Russians also said they wanted NATO to remove all military infrastructure installed in Eastern Europe after 1997 — demands that analysts said seemed unacceptable to the West.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergey A. Ryabkov, offered the details about the proposal in public for the first time on Friday, in a video news conference in Moscow, amid a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine’s border.

The demands went far beyond the current conflict between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. And most were directed not at Ukraine, which is threatened by the troop buildup, but at the United States and Ukraine’s other Western allies.

They included a request for a NATO commitment that it would not offer membership to Ukraine specifically. But NATO countries are unlikely to formally rule out future membership for Eastern European countries.

The proposal highlighted starkly differing views in the United States and Russia on the military tensions over Ukraine. Russia has insisted that the West has been fomenting the crisis by instilling anti-Russia sentiment in Ukraine, and by providing weapons. Mr. Ryabkov cast the confrontation in Ukraine as a critical threat to Russia’s security.

The United States and European allies, in contrast, say Russia provoked the security crisis by recently deploying tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia voiced some of the demands more broadly in recent weeks. But this formal Russian offer on Friday for defusing the tensions on Ukraine’s border followed a video call between President Biden and Mr. Putin on Dec. 7. After the call, Mr. Biden said he was willing to hear the Russians out.

Russian officials said diplomats conveyed the proposal to a senior American diplomat, the State Department’s assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, on Wednesday during meetings in Moscow. Afterward, Ms. Donfried said in a video statement that she would relay the ideas to Washington as well as to NATO allies during a stop this week in Brussels.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had said in a statement last week that Moscow was seeking a document with “legal and obligatory character” prohibiting any further expansion of NATO eastward in Europe. The Russian proposal took the form of a draft statement from NATO.

“Member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization accept the obligation to exclude farther expansion of NATO to Ukraine and other states,” the text suggested as an acceptable guarantee for Russia.
As I've been saying for some time now, Putin wants a new Soviet Empire, and he wants it at the direct expense of America and the West.  These are hostage demands, straight up: you can let me take Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe without firing a shot, or we can do this the hard way.

It's up to Joe Biden to make the call here. Biden's talking economic sanctions, Putin's talking rolling tanks into Kyiv. It's the Cold War days all over again, the ones that supposedly died when I was in high school and college, but a shooting war in Ukraine is going to kill thousands.

It's important to note that if Trump were still in charge, he'd be on the first plane to Moscow to agree to Putin's hostage deal, and he would use this as his argument that the US needed to drop out of NATO immediately. Ukraine would be on their own.

Biden's way forward -- hitting Putin in the wallet along with the rest of the Western World -- may not work however if China continues to play ball with him.

We'll see.

Climate Of Disaster, Kentucky Edition, Con't

Here in Kentucky, it takes a tornado destroying your home and begging for FEMA assistance to admit that the guy in the Oval Office is your president, and the Democrat in the Governor's mansion in Frankfort actually does care about setting things right.

Cliff Giambrone most certainly didn’t vote for President Biden and, in fact, was outside the U.S. Capitol protesting the election results on Jan. 6. On the trailer hitch on the back of his van, he usually uses two 10-foot poles to fly a flag with a derogatory message aimed at Biden: “Let’s Go Brandon.”

But when the 67-year-old retired construction worker drove from his home in Hamburg, Pa., to help the recovery effort here, he made a conscious decision to leave that flag at home, bringing an American flag instead. “Believe me, part of me wants to wave that flag and smile when he looks at it,” he said. “But I don’t want to be that guy.”

Pausing in his search for a lost photo album in the rubble of a home, Giambrone added, “I am political, but there are times you have to set that aside. This is one of those moments. I hope it’s not temporary. I didn’t vote for him, but he’s still my president. I want to support him.”

As Biden arrived in Mayfield on Wednesday, he came to perhaps the most conservative place he has visited as president, the one where open hostility would be most apparent. He set foot in a county that voted for Donald Trump by nearly a 4-to-1 margin. Many here protested his election, and some still do not accept that he is the rightful president.

But the storms that have transformed parts of western Kentucky suggest that a natural disaster remains one of the few spaces left in American life where, however briefly, many attempt to put their politics aside. Biden’s response to the tornadoes has won praise from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who rarely has warm words for the president. Most here say they welcome Biden’s visit, even if they question how effectively he may be able to help them.

“I didn’t vote for the president, and I’m not a fan of his policies,” said Clayton Howe, a 57-year-old lifelong resident who was assessing damage to his downtown building that Biden would walk past an hour later. “But I appreciate him being here. He’s still the president of the United States.”

Biden carried just two of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Thirteen months after the presidential election, signs of the region’s deep support for Trump remain vivid, even amid the rubble.

In Dawson Springs, a town of 2,500 where an estimated 75 percent of the houses were destroyed, tattered Trump flags still hang outside damaged homes. And even as they picked through the debris, emergency personnel were spotted over the weekend wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.

At least one “Let’s go, Brandon” shout was heard as Biden toured the area, but that reaction was relatively muted. More conspicuous were people like Gary Killian, a 55-year-old who stood in a red Trump 2020 cap but nonetheless said he wanted to hear from Biden.

“You can’t help but have compassion for our town,” Killian said. “I just want to see into his eyes. I want to hear what he has to say. And I can’t say I don’t want to hear him just because I’m from the other side of the aisle.”

Many Mayfield residents appeared to be wrestling this week with their emotions toward Biden, combining a deep-seated disdain and even contempt with a respect for the presidency and a sense that Biden deserved credit for coming. And there was a recognition, grudging for some, that they desperately needed help, or at least money, from the federal government.

Tami Trevarthen, a 58-year-old who works at a deli market and sat outside her brother’s destroyed home, said she approved of Biden’s visit. “He should see what’s going on here. People need help, federal help,” she said.

“He needs to come,” she said, before adding, “But is he coherent?” She recalled that Biden referred to the tornado that swept the area as a hurricane, and she blames him for rising gas prices and the persistence of covid.

Her brother, George Long, agreed for the most part with her assessment of Biden, but the Army veteran added that he is still the commander in chief. “I’d be diligent and courteous” if he met Biden, he said. “I’d even call him president. Everything is too political.”

Trevarthen demurred. “I’d be cordial to him,” she allowed. “Let’s see what he can do for people.”

It literally took an unprecedented natural disaster that destroyed 75% of the homes in town for these folks to admit that Joe Biden might not be the monster he has been portrayed as all these long months, and that he might actually be a good person who wants the federal government to work for everyone
Irving Kristol infamously said that a conservative is just a liberal who has been mugged by reality. I posit a conservative is just a greedy, self-centered asshole who will remain so until a climate change fueled disaster levels his home and suddenly he needs government assistance and demands it.

That's the only way conservatives ever even have a chance of learning human empathy for those unlike them.



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