In response to the pandemic and Mental Health Awareness Month, which occurs every May, the institute decided to offer free, confidential, short-term counseling.
Alan Krohn, Ph.D., 74, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst based in Ann Arbor, is training local psychiatric residents who are helping medical professionals cope with the emotional fallout from treating COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Krohn, an adjunct/clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan and a faculty member of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, has served as a Red Cross disaster medical health worker in New Orleans, Oklahoma, Sri Lanka and the Congo region. He has helped survivors of devastating hurricanes and tornados as well as wars. But the work he’s doing now is different.
He describes the COVID-19 pandemic as more of a complex trauma than a single traumatic event like a tornado.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is unique because you can’t get away from it. It’s everywhere and there is no clear beginning and end to it,” Dr. Krohn explains.
Feeling overwhelmed is a “normal reaction to an abnormal situation. People lose a sense of self. They may be a little bit frayed as their sense of identity gets lost. Some people need the trappings of life more than others. They are missing their sense of connection and customary roles,” he says.
According to Marc Rosen, Ph.D., 65, a psychologist who lives in Bloomfield Village and is the public information chair of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute, calls to crisis lines have increased during the pandemic.
“We are looking at other people with some suspicion. There is a feeling of looking over our shoulders,” he says. In addition, the pandemic can trigger traumas from earlier life.
While the pandemic is disruptive and unnerving for everyone, it is particularly devastating for health care professionals.
“They are dedicated, courageous people who are in a life-and-death situation for themselves. Some are sleeping in their garages to isolate themselves from their families,” Dr. Krohn says. “They are undersupplied in terms of equipment and there is an egregious lack of coordination from the federal government.”
They experience “flat-out fear and vulnerability” as well as guilt that they haven’t helped their patients. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed psychologically and walling off of emotions, he explains.
In response to the pandemic and Mental Health Awareness Month, which occurs every May, the institute decided to offer free, confidential, short-term counseling for those experiencing pain and trauma during the pandemic.
“We all felt a sense of helplessness and a need to help,” Dr. Rosen says.
More than 20 licensed professional therapists are providing five phone or video counseling sessions at no charge. They will help callers talk through their emotions and normalize their reactions to the pandemic, guide them on self-care and assess their personal resources, Dr. Rosen says.
Their primary goal is to help health care workers, first responders (police, firefighters and EMS workers), as well as those serving the public, such as grocery, postal and delivery workers. However, if other individuals call, they will be given resources for help as well.
“No one will be turned away,” Dr. Rosen says.
Help Lines from the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and Society
- Residents of Ann Arbor and western Wayne County: (734) 677-1590.
- Residents of the tri-county Detroit area (outside western Wayne County):
The Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, founded in 1963 and based in Farmington Hills, is a group of mental health clinicians licensed in counseling, psychiatry, psychology, and social work. The Institute offers training in psychotherapy as well as continuing medical education for therapists.