With the beginning of the New Year and after the accumulation of experiences of the four-year period that ended, education about the situation in the social environment and how they impact us emotionally and mentally is the first step that people must take to deal with feelings and emotions negative and effectively tackle the challenges of 2021.
The recommendation is made by María Rolón Martínez, a trauma psychologist, who spoke with THE SPOKESMAN on the experience of starting a year, preceded by traumatic events such as the devastating Hurricane Maria of 2017 and which still leaves families homeless; the earthquake and earthquakes of early 2020 with the vivid aftermath of the devastation; and the Covid-19 pandemic that altered the social and economic order since last March.
“It is important that people know that during this time it is normal to feel anxiety, that level of anguish,” said Rolón Martínez, adding that one of the main challenges that people face is how to identify that they are going through that “normal path” and if they need support to deal with those feelings.
“When we see that the functionality of the day is affected, when it is no longer so easy to do daily tasks because that anxiety, that anguish, and those fears impact our daily life, that is a sign that we need professional help,” he said. the psychologist.
Martínez Rolón stated that Puerto Rico suffers from an “accumulation of traumatic events” that could reach the characteristic of historical. That is why, potentially, all citizens on the Island — to a greater or lesser degree — could show symptoms of emotional trauma. You are aware that some have overcome it, but others have not.
“Examples can come from before Hurricane María, such as the impact of the economic crisis, the political situation and poverty… we cannot touch on any mental health problem without talking about the poverty in our country and the lack of support. to those marginalized populations, ”added Martínez Rolón.
He reiterated that the first step for people to effectively deal with the feelings associated with emotional trauma is education, in the present case, for example, around Covid-19 and mental health. He recommended that collecting information based on people’s opinions and comments should be avoided. The information that is accessed must be official and qualified.
“The vaccine, for example, creates anxiety among people. Am I vaccinated or not vaccinated? Do I trust or not? That creates anxiety. So the first thing is to educate ourselves about the vaccine… What is the process? What are the benefits of vaccines? ”Said Martínez Rolón.
As part of the education process, he mentioned that people should try to know what can be done, assuming minimal risks, particularly those who suffer from anxiety and could have extreme responses.
“These people may have a tendency to shut down totally, but it is important to have social support in order to cope with the trauma. And that is what has been difficult for us during the Covid, “said the psychologist.
To get support, people must remember that they can call their family and friends, use text messages or virtual meetings through social networks, so that social support is safely maintained.
“We have to be able to identify the emotions and understand that it is okay that during this time we feel frustrated, sad that we cannot see our loved ones. But we also have to do those things that make us feel good in a healthy way, ”Martínez Rolón pointed out.