The Pandemic has and continues to challenge everyone in many similar and different ways. The profound loss of lives and continuing vigilance and preparation/adjustment on part of everyone has tested the limits of many individuals, families, businesses and organizations. Increased stress and unresolved grief and loss for those affected has significantly challenged everyone’s ability to cope and adjust life styles for one’s safety and that of others. Clearly all these changes required and demanded much from everyone in terms of patience, tolerance and adaptability. With the Pandemic came a significant rise in need for behavioral services in general and in particular for those dependent on not for profit agencies.
Maintaining a Dedicated Workforce
The challenges for the not for profits were great and perhaps greater in some respects depending on public funds and not having deep pockets to weather such profound and drastic events and changes that ensued. Perhaps there was an expectation on part of some that many would fold and many needy individuals would be left in the cold. Yet, the picture ended up being very different. Thanks to support at all levels, but most notably of the leadership of those responsible for these agencies, their senior administration, and those direct service providers maintained their commitment/dedication and presence in their positions. This dedication clearly speaks to inherent and some acquired resiliency on the part many in all sectors of the society that did their best to work with the tragedies and the unexpected to come up feeling good about what we learned and overcame.
COVID-19 Did Not Reduce Us
I was fortunate enough have the opportunity to learn from number of Chief Executive Officers at agencies in NYC and on Long Island who shared their time and wisdom to answer a number of questions posed to them.
To my pleasant surprise the conversations were far from being negative or pessimistic. It was more about everyone rolling up their sleeves and doing the tough job of taking care of the individuals we serve and the staff who stayed the course of providing the services. We learned to be creative and developing other or novel ways of taking care of the business of the not-for-profit behavioral health field. Changes were necessary and required many adjustments needed to be made. The extent of what was done and continues to be a focus going forward is impressive. The mission and the vision always being on the individuals who depend on the services that behavioral health and other organizations provide.
A very informative article published by the Coalition for Behavioral Health entitled: Lessons Learned: Challenges and Successes of Behavioral Health Providers During the Pandemic (Feb. 2021) Is a must read for those interested in the topic.
Many things were learned going forward and others were highlighted as focus of work to attend to by different entities. We examined and focused on what matters the most, people’s health and lives. But something else seems to have happened. We asked questions about our personal and professional life. Do we need to live and work as before. Were we forced to try other options and choices unfamiliar and lived and continue to live a life with some or a lot of FEAR. It is said that with every crisis comes opportunities for us as individuals and collectively to improve the life we live and the work we do. Many individuals and families are doing this already. Likewise, many agencies are looking at not just the immediate future but also planning for the future in the distance. This is a process that will continue for some time. With mindful attention to a newer reality that, for example Telehealth, can provide effective or even more effective treatment for some. There is also already an impact on the workforce presenting challenges in terms of availability and turnover. We are afforded more flexibility and perhaps choices about how we choose to live our personal and work life.
I believe through tragedy we are offered the opportunity to grow, become more adaptable, flexible and realizing more choices.
Thank you again to all of those administrators who shared their time and experiences with me.
Max Banilivy, PhD, is Director of Clinical Training, Education, and Field Placement at WellLife Network.