Counselor says COVID-19 has long lasting mental impacts, gives marriage advice

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 9:51 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - COVID-19 provoked mental health problems that are still lingering even after the pandemic begins to ease. A counselor provides advice for those struggling with their marriage or other stressors.

“We think, well I’ve got the vaccine, things are kind of back to normal, what’s wrong with me? Well, the fact is your brain can logically think things are back to normal. The stress of 2020 just doesn’t automatically go away,” said the founder of True Hope Counseling, Amy Flaherty.

True Hope Counseling says the main problems they see are marriage issues.

“As stress bubbles up, it gets harder to manage life. That just explodes on whoever is around,” said Flaherty.

Flaherty says they see young couples and even people who have been married for years who say they just now need help because of the stress of the last 18 months.

“A lot of that looks like stress and differences in couples as far as what’s safe, what is not. Maybe the dad will be real, ‘I don’t want my kids around somebody, especially if they haven’t been vaccinated.’ The mom may be more relaxed,” said Flaherty.

Flaherty says the advice is mostly the same for all couples.

“Have fun together. Even if you say, ‘oh, I can’t go anywhere.’ or ‘I don’t have money,’ that type of thing, you can be in the backyard, get a sprinkler,” said Flaherty. “I mean, it doesn’t have to be anything, a game night, anything like that. You remember why you like each other.”

Flaherty adds that communication is key and gaining support from the community is helpful, like joining a church or doing an activity together.

“Drinking, in particular, has the worst effects on marriages, lives,” said Flaherty.

Alcohol abuse also comes into play. In 2020, frequent drinking increased by 14 percent. One in 4 adults reported increased drinking to handle stress, including 52 percent of parents with children ages five to seven, a bad habit that still lingers, among other issues like brain fog and the ability to handle stress.

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