In his final piece on emotional health, Reynolds Cancer Support House Support Group Facilitator, Gregory Roberts, Ph.D., discusses long-term emotional effects the pandemic culture will have on people of all ages.
What long-term psychological changes (positive or negative or neutral) coming about due to COVID-19?
I think much of that is unknown. Maybe that is the exciting or anxious piece. Some of it is good. Not so easy to say that for the most hurt ones in our culture. But psychologically, we are nearly forced to get in touch with the fragility and fluidity of culture and health and even some kind of different normal. It is like a forced answer on an exam. It is that section of a test where we must respond with something. There is no ignoring the instability, the effect and the moment… we best respond with deep honesty and awareness. We are by design called I think to work and pray. I think there is the possibility that we get better at living and working and praying.
The word most used psychologically these days is ANXIOUS. A little bit of anxiety makes us more attentive, sharper, and more focused. Too much makes us neurotic. It is the healthy anxiety we should seek. It reminds me of the awe and the healthy fear that the scripture speaks of. That anxiety in good measure, produces in us that quieter more contemplative deeper personality. Maybe it humbles us in ways that are good and needed.
I, as most of you are, am concerned about many things, but am concerned most about young adults and all of those today from age 1 to 35. Some of this millennial generation has felt the economic effects that their parents experienced in 2008. Now, 12 years later they are experiencing something maybe worse, this pandemic, they might become more cynical or they are strong and resilient. One of my students said during the last week we were able to meet for class live in the classroom—she said she was not afraid of dying of this disease, but is afraid that she wasn’t going to have any money, couldn’t pay her bills, and may become homeless. We pray for them. We all resist change, but change has always been, and it always will be.
Portions of this written piece are provided by Dr. Roberts from a podcast interview he conducted with Reverend Tasha Blackburn of First Presbyterian Church-Fort Smith. Dr. Roberts facilitates cancer support groups for adult male cancer patients and fathers of pediatric cancer patients at the Reynolds Cancer Support House.