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How Mental Health Practitioners Are Dealing with Trauma and Other Mental Illnesses During COVID-19


Frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic have been dealing with a pandemic of their own: mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, insomnia, distress, and trauma. Mental health practitioners are dealing with their own set of challenges during this time, and need to help themselves in order to help others. It is important to recognize and explore the mental health issues that are occurring for mental health practitioners, ensuring they can do their job to help others who are going through the same types of issues.

Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

Dr. Amanda Fialk says that typically, 21% to 61% of mental health practitioners experience high levels of burnout and compassion fatigue. During COVID-19, however, these numbers have only gotten larger with those in a state of acute stress and heightened levels of support. The symptoms of burnout include emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lower sense of personal accomplishment.

Compassion fatigue is when you feel emotional or physical exhaustion, which causes you to lack compassion for others. These two symptoms can make it hard for a practitioner to make an impact with their client and may cause them to feel emotionally drained themselves.


There is a particular trauma that mental health practitioners go through called vicarious traumatization. This is when empathetic engagement with traumatized clients and listening to their traumatic experiences can make you feel trauma yourself. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge of trauma-related diagnoses and symptoms. Practitioners are seeing clients suffering from acute to ongoing trauma in their practices and organizations, making them more prone to developing that mental illness themselves.

How Practitioners Can Help Themselves

In order to help yourself while you help your clients, start doing what you can to calm yourself, like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, exercise, journaling, and self-help groups. You should also see if you can find a therapist of your own. Schedule 10-15 minute breaks in between your clients to ensure that you give yourself time to breathe and relax. You should also establish boundaries in order to find some time for yourself while you are at home, instead of focusing all your energy on the stories you hear from your patients.

Speak to your family about making sure they do not enter the room while you are working, to guarantee you receive the same level of privacy you vowed to your clients. You cannot help people with trauma and other mental illnesses if you have not done anything to help yourself.

No matter who you are, help is always available. The Guest House offers a variety of treatment options for addiction and mental illness, including individualized and group therapy, breath work, art therapy, grief therapy, and much more. To get help, please call us today at 855-876-3884.