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Resilience and covid: The task of psychologists

The psychologist Raquel Tomé enters the final stretch of her series “Resilience: face to face with the virus”, where she has spoken to groups that have played a crucial role in the covid pandemic, such as health workers, staff of emergencies or the teachers. In this article he talks about the work of psychologists and, in the next, he offers the testimony of three of them

Resilience and covid: The task of psychologists

Walking in search of new goals and objectives, a metaphor for growth and overcoming./EFE/Rolf Haid

At the gates of this Christmas of 2022, almost three years since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the echoes of the pandemic penetrate weakly in front of a social reality swallowed by the maelstrom of a frenetic world and devoured by new anxieties and uncertainties.

Covid19 reminds us of the ruined remains of a galleon stranded on the shore of the sea, once powerful and feared. But that it no longer conditions our lives because fortunately its deadly potential has been weakened thanks to health and scientific advances.

We have shown once again that, as a species, we harbor a huge resilience capacitythat is to say, the one that allows us to deal with tragic and devastating catastrophes or that threaten our survival and to extract valuable lessons from them.

In these difficult days, the group of Psychologists contributed as much as possible to strengthening it, committed to offering people psychological and emotional support to remain psychologically strong, autonomous and functional.

The resilience of psychologists

We psychologists knew better than anyone that the situation we faced would be at the very least stressful, very stressful for most people, and perhaps traumatic for some.

And, that almost all of us would face issues related to:

* Our own health or that of our loved ones

* Job security and financial difficulties

* The social isolation imposed by the iron restrictions

* Drastic changes in daily routines

* The pain of the death of loved ones

* And, in addition to a situation of “objective danger”, the continuous stress spewed by the media contributed to repetitive exposure. And, we think it may have further worsened our level of “perceived stress”, that is, how threatening we evaluate certain situations of daily life to which we are subjected.

If to this explosive cocktail we add the ferry confinement and the multiple restrictions and what we lost:

  1. The contact familiar usual
  2. The possibility to perform activities that we usually use as instruments to regulate our emotions in the face of stress such as: enjoying the warmth and company of our friends or meeting new people, practicing or watching certain sports activities, traveling, going shopping, etc.

We find the result of one collective trauma. That is, people who under normal conditions would have been considered at very low risk for the development of psychopathology, became vulnerable when exposed to high levels of stress, but without their usual strategies to regulate themselves.

We warn that the COVID19 pandemic she would be remembered as one epidemiological and psychological crisisand indeed it has been so.

We were hit by the call “third wave” pregnant with psychological problems that still continue today, an increase in painful suicide rates and a population that cries out, as the ridiculed Íñigo Errejón already did in his parliamentary seat with the famous: “Go to the doctor”, a greater presence effective and real of Psychologists in the national public health system and therefore a recognition of our work.

The psychologist Raquel Tomé/Photo provided

Psychology holds the key to prevention

However, faced with this Dantesque scenario, we Psychologists knew that we could do a fundamental prevention task.

We psychologists had powerful tools that, when properly applied, help to defuse panic, to tolerate uncertainty, to wade through the muddy waters of sadness and depression, to create support networks and ultimately connect to not succumb

We contribute with numerous individual actions, we serve free of charge people with limited resources. We act quickly and flexibly and adapt the therapeutic framework to the online context to continue psychological treatments. And, most of our patients, mostly used to the proximity and warmth of the personal encounter, welcomed it.

At the collective level many of our organizations such as the one headed by the Official College of Psychology in Madrid, to which I belong and of which I was a member of the Governing Board at that time, published numerous Help Guides, informative videos that offered useful menus of coping strategies and built and financed with his money assistance devices for free telephone psychological attention aimed at the general population and others, at specific groups, for people in mourning and interveners: doctors, nurses, caregivers, caregivers, etc.

We request the iinstitutionswhen hospitals were already beginning to be provided with medical equipment, that they try to make some protocols more flexible in order to humanize the communication of bad news, the progress of the illness or the death itself and thus facilitate the farewells of families, given that we foresee many complicated duels , because even today they survive the pain of these wounds.

We demand, both actively and passively, more sensitivity and more psychological resources to attend to this psychological emergency. And, we came face to face, from insensitive institutions that denied funding and despised our professionals to others that did know how to calibrate and appreciate the value of our contribution.

We were aware that the mentalizing ability and his reflective function, the one that allows us to better understand ourselves and others, was committed and this constituted an element of enormous vulnerability. We knew this would lead tragic consequences.

But also that we were important to stay strong and resilient and we went out of our way to be supportive and help.

The resilience of psychologists has helped the resilience of the population.

A masked man walks through Oviedo. EFE/ Eloy Alonso
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