Summer/Fall 2020 Issue
Stephen Cunningham, MD
The summer and fall newsletters have been combined this year. All of us affiliated with PSV hope that you and your families are well during this turbulent period. As I write this, upcoming plans for ourselves, our families and our patients remain largely in question due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Trips, graduations, wedding ceremonies, and conferences and entertainment events are being postponed or cancelled. Each of us are being forced to make changes in our lives, both personally and professionally.
Each of us can attest to the difficulties related to adapting to this "new normal". That term, as well as the word "unprecedented", now cause me to cringe for their overuse and for their inability to adequately describe what we are experiencing. Day by day, we are tasked with dealing with a world that feels wildly unpredictable. The extent of our individual and collective resilience feels as if it is being tested.
YET, WE ARE RESILIENT!
We remain so for our families, our staff and our patients. As my own private practice has quickly transitioned into a telemedicine model, I have been impressed by how my colleagues, staff, and patients have adapted. Many of my patients have long wrestled with the isolation, agoraphobia and hopelessness associated with various mood disorders. Some report to me that little has changed in their lives since the pandemic. According to my patients, "seeing" me over the phone or via video-link has not been as problematic for them as I had worried it would be. To be sure, many patients have had an acute exacerbation of their symptoms related to the current stressors, and some do not like the world of telemedicine. But I continue to learn from all my patients about the amazing human ability to adapt, and I attempt to encourage and kindle any elements of resiliency within them.
As we all expected, the demand for mental health treatment has increased during this pandemic, and the demand will likely continue on this trajectory in the months to come. It is crucial that we remain available for our patients, who are significantly more vulnerable to caregiver stress, isolation, complicated bereavement, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and addiction.
Statistically, our patients are at a higher risk of succumbing to suicide and addiction than to the coronavirus itself, but the ripple-effect of this pandemic make both more likely. Additionally, our patients and colleagues who are in ethnic minorities are especially at risk for experiencing ancillary stressors. We must remain vigilant for the economic and healthcare disparities visited upon those in the hispanic and african american communities, as well as the misplaced anger directed towards those in the asian american communities. How we take care of ourselves, our patients and our neighbors will say much about how we, as a profession and as a Society, will endure and rise from this pandemic.
Our current APA president, Dr. Jeffery Geller, recently wrote an article describing the history of previous APA meetings that were cancelled due to national or world events. In 1861, the conference was cancelled due to "the troubled state of the country" related to the civil war and in 1945, the conference was cancelled due to "exigencies" of WWII. Ironically, the 1918 and 1919 meetings were not cancelled during the influenza epidemic, likely due to a lack of national awareness about the extent of the dangers.
Hope is a core part of the trait of resiliency, and we in this psychiatric society are both hopeful and resilient. We remain hopeful and confident in our plans to proceed with the PSV conference in Roanoke, VA September 25-26, 2020. Attendees will have the opportunity to attend the Fall PSV conference in person or virtually, so that those who are unable or concerned about attending in person will not miss out. We will continue to keep you informed of any updates to plans and all plans will be made with our health and our safety being paramount.
Please remain hopeful and resilient in your everyday lives and continue to encourage these survival traits in your patients. We will persevere and survive any adversity together!
I hope to see you all in the Fall.
September 25-26, 2020
Hotel Roanoke &
Curio Collection by Hilton
Are you accepting new patients?
Opt into APA’s “Find A Psychiatrist” database. To view the functionality or opt-in,
FYI: A link for this option has been added to the PSV website. Select the “About” button and then “Find a Psychiatrist” from the drop down.