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A Reflection on 2020 and a Hopefulness for 2021

“I want one moment in time when I’m more than I thought I could be.” Despite the pain, despair, anxiety, depression, and loss suffered in 2020, thousands of people across this amazing country discovered they were more than they thought they could be. Business owners forced to close their doors discovered ways to pay laid-off employees, and parents who had never homeschooled, taught history, science, and math. Medical workers across all specialties gave more than they thought they could give, and thousands of people fed their families, because we gave more than we thought we could give. 2020 forced us all to find that one moment in time, physically, emotionally, and mentally to endure more than we ever imagined we would be forced to endure and be more than we imagined we could be.

Although we observed incredible acts of generosity from people from all walks of life, the effect 2020 has had on mental health remains explosive. Today nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. Both those who acknowledge their illness and those who don’t, suffer symptoms as they long to be more, to accomplish more, and to understand why they feel the way they do. They long for that one moment in time, when they can feel good, have a sense of self-worth – be more than they thought they could be. Improving Lives Counseling Services team of professional counselors, and therapists wants them to know, when they think no one is listening – we hear them, and when they feel like they’re invisible, they are seen.

Pandemics such as COVID-19 affects society physically, financially, economically, socially, and politically – all of which affects mental health. Being forced to observe a loved one through a nursing home or hospital window, moving mom or dad into the guestroom or garage to prevent exposure, or losing a parent, grandparent, sibling, or child to COVID-19 affects physical health and mental wellbeing. Knowing you can’t hold your child, embrace a loved one or be heard as you call someone by name is what this pandemic has done to many. Stress, anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been observed in children, adolescents, teens, adults .and seniors – despite the level of disruption, tragedy, or loss.

With TV and radio news outlets, social media and newspapers consistently reporting on COVID-19 infections, COVID-19 deaths, joblessness, homelessness, poverty, and hunger, even those who experience no “real -loss” can experience chronic stress, eating disorders, behavior disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse. Many who feel no physical pain at all can be chronically stressed and emotionally strained. Social unrest, political divisiveness, marches, riots, bread lines, and fear of change, coupled with social distancing, wearing a mask, and sheltering place has been overwhelming for many adults and children. Domestic violence (reported) is up, suicides are up, as well as robberies of bread, milk, and other basic food items from small mom-and-pop grocers.

The United States of America remains the greatest country on earth, we just want to make it better. The counselors and therapist of Improving Lives Counseling Services want to diagnose and treat every man, woman, boy and girl who is suffering or has been affected by the challenges of 2020. We want everyone, regardless of who they are, where they live, where they come from, or their ability to pay, to be more than they thought they could be. In 2020 we changed lives and saved lives; and we will continue our work in 2021. We will hear those who think they are unheard, find those who feel lost, and see those who feel unseen.

Despite the challenges of 2020 and the ongoing pandemic, we are a nation of fighters. People who believe in their fellow man, in equality, in freedom and justice for all. Will 2021 bring change? Will the digital transformation we saw in 2020 accelerate in 2021? Will behavioral differences we learned to live with, in 2020 continue? Will life ever go back to normal? No one can say for sure. What “YOU” and those you care about the most can say is: “As I make resolutions and set 2021 goals I will put my mental health and mental well-being first.”

As you begin 2021, and face the many continuing obstacles remember: “No man is an island, no man stands alone”. Improving Lives Counseling Services was here for children, adolescents, teens, adults and seniors, virtually and in-person in 2020, and we’ll be here for them and “you” in 2021. Have a Safe, Happy, and Prosperous 2021. Live the life you were meant to live.

KNEALE EWING, President
Improving Lives Counseling Services, Inc.,