October 15, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Navigating postpartum and a pandemic

We wanted to introduce our newest LCSW, Katie Burgess. Katie is an experienced mental health provider and a new mom. Here’s a quick Q&A with Katie, as well as her thoughts on postpartum life during 2020. 

What has it been like having a newborn during a pandemic? 

It’s both beautiful and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Becoming a mom has always been a dream of mine and I feel so blessed to have been given that honor. But, being a mom, in general, was so much harder than I thought it would be. I really struggled with the transition, all the uncertainty, lack of schedule, postpartum physical health, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and just feeling completely overwhelmed.

Then about a month later, quarantine happened and I was even more out of my comfort zone. We had to navigate keeping our baby safe from something that was completely unknown and make decisions that parents have not had to make for a long time. We kind of just had to guess and try to make the right decisions for our family. In many ways, it was beautiful because it allowed both my husband and I to both stay home longer with our newborn, and it also allowed us to focus on our new family of three and on attachment. But we lost our entire support system. It was just the three of us 24/7 and we did not have any additional physical support,  and that was really tough at times. 

I was also excited about building a “mommy” community, which I have not been able to do given the current state of things but I know many other moms are in the same boat as me, and I know we will connect one day.  

Can you speak a little bit about the spectrum of postpartum highs and lows a new mother might experience? Were you, as a new mom, surprised by any of these? 

Postpartum is different for everyone and everyone’s experience is valid. There are high highs and low lows and everything in between. You’re going through what may be the biggest transition of your life, while also having major hormonal swings. This can lead to many different feelings. You can have “baby blues” from the sudden drop in certain hormones and from this major life transition, something that 70-80% of women experience.

There could be symptoms of sadness, anxiety, insomnia (even when the baby is sleeping), irritability, or some might experience difficulty bonding with their baby. I’ve had a couple of other moms tell me about their experiences postpartum and that has helped me to not fear the worst when I did have the baby blues. If these symptoms persist, it may be Postpartum Depression or Anxiety. Both are fairly common but I think it is not talked about enough, which leads to many women to, unfortunately, suffer alone. 

Connecting with your new self can be challenging as a new mom. Do you have any tips for mothers who are struggling to relate to their new bodies, their new identity, and even balancing work and personal life? 

I think first and foremost I want to recommend some self-care and self-love.Now, I know sometimes when we hear someone say that, we roll our eyes, and that’s fair. If you felt like you didn’t have time for self-care before a baby and you feel like there isn’t a second to spare each day, I totally get it.

"You have been through so much, Mama, and taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of that sweet baby."

If you can carve out an hour, amazing! If you can carve out five minutes, amazing! But I do know that you have to be purposeful about it and you also have to ask for help sometimes. I am pretty prideful about not asking for help and I love taking care of others, but I’ve definitely realized that in order to do that, I have to take care of myself. This is still a challenge for me, so how does one do this?

First, I encourage you to seek the safe people in your life and ask for what you need. This can be daunting sometimes, but I bet they’re wanting to help you more than you think. Try not to let that “mommy guilt” get you. It can get to me sometimes, but I know that I can’t give my baby all that he needs if I don’t have anything left to give. 

How can we embrace these new parts of ourselves and our new lives? I think talking about it openly, whether that’s with your partner, a family member, a friend or a therapist is the best way to navigate all this newness. 

What challenges might new parents face in their relationship? Do you have any tips for navigating this new chapter? 

Every relationship is going to be challenged differently in this process. You’re both going through a major change in your life and your identity and as individuals, you might process that differently. You are also each individually going to feel like you’re doing 100% of the work, which might make you think that your partner is not pulling their weight. The reality is, in most cases, they actually might be, there is just truly that much work to do. 

You are also having to make decisions you’ve never made before in your life and you’re going to have to make them together. We were all raised differently and that impacts, in par,t how we parent, so there are some things you may have to navigate together that you don’t fully see eye-to-eye on. 

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Tell your partner how you’re feeling, how you want to handle things, etc. But to truly communicate effectively, you need to listen. 

Finally, make time for each other. Sometimes this can just feel like another task amongst a million other things you have to do, but it truly makes a difference to feel connected with your partner when you’re navigating everything else. 

As a mental health professional, what are some professional resources for getting help? 

**I am not endorsing these resources but just passing them along, one mom to another. 

Would you recommend some coping strategies for getting through the upcoming holidays? 

Like much of this year, this holiday season is possibly going to look a little different for you. In my family, holidays are important and celebrated in a big way. I have definitely had to manage my expectations of what my baby’s first holidays are going to look like and I’ve allowed myself to grieve that because it is disappointing. However, I can only control what I can and accept what I cannot. 

Although we might have to shift a little bit, and might not get to see our full extended family, we are still finding ways to celebrate. I am having conversations with my family now about how we can be safe and cautious and still spend time together. 

We hope you found comfort in Katie’s experience and words. We sure are excited to have her on our team. To all the new parents out there, you’re not alone; there are so many tiny joyful moments, but it’s also REALLY really hard. You will get through this. Please reach out for help.

Appointments are available in just a few days. Or call us at (800) 801-9833.

September 2, 2020Comments are off for this post.

The Intersection of Technology and Mental Health Services

In many industries, technological advances come in fits and starts. For medicine, the attempts to modernize have been cumbersome and asynchronous at best. The global pandemic is forcing the industry to confront issues with inaccessibility. Like many organizations, we have had to make many adjustments to handle this challenge.

In 1993 The American Telemedicine Association was created to increase access to medical care for rural communities. Thirty years later, old fights to retain insurance coverage continue, and new fights to provide prescriptions electronically have arisen.

Our medical system has become a dystopian body, without a nervous system, with various body parts unable to communicate critical information to the brain. Conversely, the brain is unable to direct each body part to do what's required to function correctly as a whole. Through the years, short-sighted solutions have unfortunately also resulted in additional barriers to getting care, and to accessing data critical for making timely (and comprehensive) clinical decisions on behalf of the patient. HIPAA, a law that was designed to protect the patient, although well-intentioned, has led to negative secondary consequences. For example, barriers to access patient information may lead an emergency healthcare worker to give medication that a patient is allergic to or may start a medication that a patient has already tried unsuccessfully. Software advances across other industries reveal the shortfall of technological innovations within the healthcare industry.

"Burdensome regulations have slowed progress, and providers have been reticent to adopt even the most basic telepsychiatry prior to the pandemic."

Sometimes disruption of an industry comes through random events or other "acts of God" that force an industry to make changes en masse. The global spread of COVID-19 has pushed mental health practitioners to bridge the gap quickly through telehealth. Some of the prior barriers to using telehealth included unfamiliarity with utilizing telehealth platforms and fear of the legal risks that could come with using such platforms in case of a patient developing suicidal or homicidal ideation. Within weeks of state and nationwide shutdowns, telehealth suddenly became the only clear answer to providing behavioral health care. COVID-19 has forced mental health providers to adopt a quick timeline for its use.

Our Story

At Sensible Care, our telehealth platform was launched in 2019, primarily for patients who resided 30 minutes or further away from our clinic. Patients who were impacted by long commutes required a solution that would solve for delayed appointments due to traffic or time restrictions. While we noted that patients initially preferred to see new providers in person, virtual care became the norm rather quickly, and for some, became the preferred method of care. Our team quickly adjusted to utilizing telehealth services in order to ensure consistent treatment, which prepared us well in advance for COVID-19.

Benefits of Telehealth

Let’s look at the benefits of telehealth as it provides many advances in care that are not possible utilizing physical appointments only.

Location: Many patients reside in areas with limited or no access to psychiatrists or therapists, who typically cluster in large urban areas, resulting in few or no mental health care options. With telehealth platforms, patients in rural areas suddenly have access to mental health providers anywhere in the state where they live. Most patients may start by choosing providers who are physically located closer to their residence. However, we suspect that this preference may be transitory, as patients realize that they have more choices if they pick from the larger pool of providers throughout their entire state of residence. By celebrating telehealth, Sensible Care can deliver comprehensive behavioral services throughout California and eventually nationwide.

Time: Consider the amount of time spent by patients traveling to and from their home or work to see their providers; it's significant. When appointments require less time away from home or work, patients can reinvest that time in productivity, time with their families, and doing things that make them happy. For providers, telehealth creates an opportunity for them to provide care at night or on weekends, which are times that have typically not been utilized, due to the time constraints required to travel to and from their clinic or hospital. New availability means even more access to care. Allowing providers to work from the comfort of their own home also helps to reduce burnout from commuting. Providers now have more time to spend on self-care, and this enhances their ability to serve their patients in the long run. This helps combat the worsening discrepancy between limited providers and high demand for mental health services.

Money: If we're also utilizing the famous equation, "time = money," telehealth certainly saves money. We earn more time for other things in our lives, and we spend less money on gas for commuting. Less gas consumed results in less pollution, which is significant environmental harm, which also costs money to remedy.

Comfort: Some providers and patients may have fears for their safety when traveling to and from clinics for various reasons. Providing healthcare from wherever is most convenient for both parties acknowledges this concern, and allows both parties to meet when and where they're comfortable.

Some see the use of this telehealth technology in these times as a temporary solution. Yet, there are so many arguments that this is just the beginning of an epic and substantial shift in telehealth services, even after this pandemic subsides.

Future innovations

At Sensible Care, incorporating telehealth into our clinic early on has resulted in a smoother transition to its use during the COVID-19 outbreak. Utilizing technology's benefits to create efficiencies in care has been at the crux of providing excellent and continually improving care for our patients. We plan to continue to be at the tip of the spear in pushing for this change so that people nationwide across all spectrums will have access to quality mental health services when they are ready.

© 2023 Sensible Care, Inc. 

InstagramFacebookLinkedIn | Yelp

Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use