Your mental health matters, and if you're struggling to take care of your mental and spiritual wellbeing right now, you are not alone.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created new stressors, exacerbated ongoing mental health struggles, and exposed the obstacles that prevent many people from accessing affordable, high-quality care when they are in distress. This resource, while not comprehensive and encompassing of all the ways F/friends are struggling right now, is a starting point.
Here are some suggestions and resources from FGC staff for F/friends who are looking for answers. We'll note here that we are not doctors, though quite a few of us have experience seeking therapy and accessing resources to improve mental and spiritual wellbeing.
Find a Therapist.
A licensed therapist can work with you on new and ongoing psychological issues you're experiencing. If you're new to the experience of therapy or looking for support on a sliding scale, this article from Health outlines options to access quality therapy for every budget. Therapy for Black Girls is a podcast and a web resource with a therapist directory for Black women and girls. Within the Quaker community, the Friends Counseling Service from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting offers psychological support to members and regular attenders of PYM, their families, and staff.
Note to readers: If your Quaker Yearly Meeting, Monthly Meeting, or church organizes or knows of a network of Quaker therapists, we very much would like to know so we can list it here.
Integrate self-care into your daily life.
Self-care has become a revolutionary act. We live in a time when self-worth is linked to productivity, and while COVID-19 has revealed that every job is essential, many of us are still over-worked, underpaid, and experiencing dangerously high levels of stress. Everybody has worth, including a body that is engaged in the act of resting and recharging.
- The Nap Ministry by Tricia Hersey is a website filled with self-care guides and audio-visual projects that further rest as resistance.
- This article from The Mighty outlines the difference between a self-care plan and safety plan (and why you need both).
- Friend Bonita Porter reflects on needlepoint as a spiritual act of self-care.
- Resources for Self-Care for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) from Harvard University
- Pendle Hill pamphlet Quaker Worship and Techniques of Meditation describes how combining Yoga, Transcendental Meditation, and Quaker spirituality leads to a deeper understanding of the inner light.
- Tips for Coping with Anxiety, by Cincinnati Friends Meeting (Twitter post with graphic)
Form a Care Committee.
If a therapist and a self-care routine are helpful but you want additional support during COVID-19 or to cope with another source of distress (such as the loss of job, divorce, or death of a loved one), forming a care committee with trusted Friends who are grounded in Quaker spirituality can go a long way. This resource from School of the Spirit outlines the process of forming a care committee and how the committee accomplishes its work.
The world and the stress of daily life can be so overwhelming that we forget to acknowledge the relationships and blessings we have to look forward to every day. At the end of each day, make a list of the things you are grateful for (or say them out loud). Write a thank you note to someone who has made a difference in your day, your week, your month, or your life. Gratitude can improve your mental health, build stronger relationships, and help you enjoy activities on a deeper level.
Recommended Reading, Listening, and Watching
- Studying the Mind: Psychology and Mental Health (Quakers in the World)
- Mental Health in Our Meetings (Britain Yearly Meeting)
- 11 Podcasts Hosted By Therapists That Can Help Up Your Self-Care Game (Bustle)
- Quakers & Mental Health, a project of Haverford College
- Pendle Hill Pamphlet #416: Grief, Forgiveness, and Redemption as a Way of Transformation
- A Conversation on Grief, Death, and Dying: A Resource for Friends during COVID-19 from FGC
- Quakers and Mental Health (QuakerSpeak by Friends Journal)
- The Interplay of Quakerism and Therapy (QuakerSpeak by Friends Journal)
- The Influence of Quakers in Mental Healthcare (QuakerSpeak by Friends Journal)
- School Anxiety + Children: Post-Shutdown Tips for Parents (The Quaker School at Horsham)
- 5 Ways Families Can Prepare as Coronavirus Cases Surge (The New York Times)
- Yoga for grief and sadness (Yoga with Dionne)
- Solo on the Holiday? Reach Out (The New York Times)
Virtual Events on Mental Health
- November 11th, 2020: This FREE upcoming mental health and self-care virtual event from Philadelphia's PBS affiliate features a licensed psychologist, mental health advocates, and the host of the Black in Therapy podcast. Learn more and register here.
- November 12th, 2020: The Boston Globe is hosting a virtual event, Navigating The Complexities Of Mental Health Amidst A Pandemic. Learn more and register here.
This resource originally appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of Vital Friends, FGC's monthly eNewsletter.