By Bart Magee, Ph.D.
It’s an emotionally confusing time in the current age of the COVID-19 Pandemic. While not quite post pandemic, we’re no longer under lockdown or full restriction. Many workplaces remain remote, while more restaurants, bars, and other social gathering places are open and crowded. While many people are feeling relieved and happy to resume social engagements, others remain cautious, continuing to restrict their activities. Whether and where to don a mask remains a moving target. In this socially uncertain climate, it’s no surprise that social anxiety has been on the rise, particularly among young people. Social anxiety disorder, which affects over 15 million adults in the US, was already increasing before the pandemic and is now growing exponentially. It’s one of the more serious mental health challenges or our time. What is social anxiety and how can we address it?
Last week it was the Fellows turn to join the ranks of Access Institute’s 2020/21 graduates. Many hugs were shared yesterday as Access Institute bid farewell at our Fellow’s Graduation Luncheon. We will miss all of our graduates dearly but can’t wait to see all the fantastic things they accomplish moving forward!
At the graduation ceremony, Anjali George Ph.D., Director of Elder Services, offered the new graduates an extraordinary speech that perfectly captured these challenges and triumphs and we thought it worth sharing.
Over the past two years, Access Institute’s clinical training programs have undergone a series of changes and challenges, including, the development of a new Doctoral Internship, staff and leadership changes and all the organizational obstacles related to COVID-19— treatment, didactic training and supervision all moving to remote platforms (and now back again). While stressful for staff and trainees, these and other trials have moved us to create important new organizational processes, structures and the hiring of key training staff. Change is never easy for an organization and managing change is critical to organizational resilience. Thanks to a dedicated team of staff, board, volunteer supervisors and faculty and our talented interns and fellows, Access Institute’s training programs will continue to meet the highest standards of excellence and will be ready to grow and adapt to meet the needs of a diverse community
By Bart Magee, Ph.D.
Writing in the New York Times recently, Adam Grant struck a national cord talking about a post-pandemic emotional state. He called it “languishing”. It’s a pervasive dull, joyless, and aimless feeling that he names as middle state between flourishing and depression. His article resonated with millions of people who, after a year of isolation, anxiety, and either overwork or underwork, are feeling burnt out and spent. It’s common to hear people expressing confusion these days, saying that with restrictions being lifted and society coming alive again, they expected to be relieved and excited to get out, but they’re not. Rather, they are feeling reluctant, ambivalent, and too emotionally drained to deal with it all. They are languishing.
“Thank goodness you found me. I need to talk to you! What happened to everyone? I’ve been so frightened, and my sister, she just tells me to calm down.” These were the first words spoken by Mrs. Jones* to her Access Institute therapist during their initial remote session in March of 2020. Mrs. Jones is 85 and lives in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point.