• Michael Roknick

Pandemic can take toll on mind, too

Updated: May 25

HERMITAGE – While physical illness is the COVID-19 pandemic’s greatest threat, mental anguish can be debilitating as well, said a county-based mental health expert.



TANNER MONDOK | Herald Scott Baker, Drug and Alcohol Program and Adult Outpatient Mental Health Services manager, sits at his desk at Community Counseling Center of Mercer County in Hermitage.

“Fears of catching the pandemic can overwhelm the mind to the point where it takes a toll on the body,’’ said Dr. Scott Baker, a counselor at Community Counseling Center of Mercer County. “Being anxious can give you things like shortness of breath, making your chest hurt a bit and even a cough. And not taking your regular maintenance drugs can do that too.’’

HERMITAGE – While physical illness is the COVID-19 pandemic’s greatest threat, mental anguish can be debilitating as well, said a county-based mental health expert.

“Fears of catching the pandemic can overwhelm the mind to the point where it takes a toll on the body,’’ said Dr. Scott Baker, a counselor at Community Counseling Center of Mercer County. “Being anxious can give you things like shortness of breath, making your chest hurt a bit and even a cough. And not taking your regular maintenance drugs can do that too.’’


Baker manages the Hermitage-based Community Counseling Center’s drug and alcohol program and adult outpatient mental health services. Even though he has a doctorate in counselor education and supervision, this isn’t just book-learned advice.

Not long ago, he found himself with a bad headache.


“Then I realized this is allergy season and I hadn’t been taking my allergy medication,’’ Baker said.


Maintaining mental health over the crisis doesn’t mean scoffing at practical ways to avoid catching the virus, he said.

“We’re not trying to minimize the situation,’’ Baker said of the pandemic. “You need to take the proper precautions.’’ Guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — like standing at least 6 feet away from other people and washing hands — should be observed, Baker said.

“When I come home from the clinic every day I wash my clothes and wash my hands,’’ he said.

At the same time, Baker said part of proper mental health lies in understanding there are limits in preventive behavior.

“You have to know there’s only so much you can do,’’ Baker said. “It’s when you start thinking of all the possible bad things that can happen that we get way far ahead of ourselves.’’ One of his top recommendations for controlling emotion is to keep mind and body moving as a way of distracting from the pandemic.


“Do something meaningful, something with purpose like cleaning and arranging your garage like you’ve always wanted to do or go grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor.’’ With the pandemic and its response — recommendations that people practice social distancing — leave people in uncharted territory, Baker said the counseling center’s staff is developing new skills and approaches.

“Our employees are working so hard in learning new things like telecommunication,’’ he said. “We want our clients to know we’re reaching out to them.’’


https://www.sharonherald.com/covid-19/local/pandemic-can-take-toll-on-mind-too/article_7e0df70e-73c8-11ea-bf8f-d383c6136e9f.html


#MenthHealth #Pandemic #CommunityCounseling #HealthExpert

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