Category: Brooke Beyma

Brooke Beyma Discusses the Effects the Pandemic Has Had on Mental Health

“How have you been?” A question that has been given new significance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout 2020 and 2021, a large number of Americans experienced unprecedented hardships, all while socially distancing from their emotional support circles. While it’s easy to say that nearly every American has struggled during the past two years, the question remains, what has been the exact toll the pandemic has had on mental health. Brooke Beyma, a college student currently studying psychology at the University of Tampa, has wondered that exact question and believes she has an answer. Below, Brooke Beyma will break down how the pandemic has impacted different facets of mental health. 

Poor Mental Health In Young Adults

According to multiple surveys, individuals whose mental health was most significantly impacted by the pandemic were those who lost their jobs, were separated from social circles, and were experiencing the greatest financial difficulties. Historically, young adults just starting their careers often have the smallest accumulated wealth and are most likely to be laid off first during times of financial stress. According to a PEW survey, of the 50 million Americans who filed for unemployment during the pandemic, 35% were between the ages of 18-29, with another 30% between the ages of 30-49. It was during this time that psychologists saw a higher instance of young adults reporting anxiety and depressive episodes (56% increase), suicidal thoughts (26% increase), and substance abuse (25% increase).

Shortage of Mental Health Professionals

One of the more visible effects the pandemic had on mental health was highlighting the United States’s current shortage of mental health services. While more than half of all Americans reported feeling anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent study found that 32% of Americans who reported poor mental health were unable to receive treatment. Many therapists and psychologists reported a significant influx of new patients and record high waiting list for appointments. Surveys now show that one-third of all Americans live in areas lacking mental health professionals, namely outside of major cities.

High Levels of Alcoholism

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials saw a drastic increase in substance abuse, primarily alcohol. During the week of March 21, 2020, national sales of alcohol rose by 54% compared to the year before, with online alcohol sales increasing by 262%. However, officials also found that while alcohol consumption among adults increased in young adults, women, in particular, increased their alcohol consumption by 41% compared to the 2019 baseline. While women showed the most significant alcohol increase, those most at risk for increased alcohol consumption also included those with:

–        Limited coping mechanism to extreme stress

–        Those with limited or reduced finances

–        Inadequate social support

–        Lost access to alcohol and substance treatment programs such as AA and rehabilitation facilities.

University of Tampa Student Brooke Beyma Discusses the Skills all School Psychologists Must Have

According to a number of recent surveys, the number of children with a mental health disorder in the United States has risen significantly within the past ten years. A new analysis of data published by JAMA Pediatrics indicates that as many as 1 in 6 children between the ages of 6-17 have a mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD. As a result, the United States has seen a rise in child and school psychologists in recent years. University of Tampa student Brooke Beyma is one of the many individuals entering this growing field and is here to share her thoughts on the necessary skills all student psychologists must possess. 

Possess Both Empathy and Boundaries

Many empathetic people naturally gravitate towards fields in which they can help others, whether that be as a nurse, police officer, or psychologist. While empathy is a necessity when working as a school psychologist, it is also equally important to understand boundaries. Brooke Beyma states that, far too often, those who enter the psychology field do not set up healthy boundaries between themselves and their patients and, as a result, become burnt out relatively early on in their careers. For this reason, it is crucial that school psychologists be able to empathize with patients while setting up healthy boundaries between work and their personal life.

Good With Children

Regardless of whether or not an individual conceptually wants to become a school or child psychologist and pursues it educationally, they cannot work effectively as a school psychologist if they do not work well with their patient group. Working with children is a unique skill, and requires adults to not only learn to respect children but understand the communication levels of different age groups and work patiently with various age groups.

Know How to Work with Parents and Faculty as Well

While school psychologists spend the majority of their day interacting with students, they will also have to be able to work as a mediator between students and adults in certain situations. If, for example, a student’s parent is currently dealing with alcohol abuse, the school psychologist may need to help train the student’s teachers on how to best help the student through this difficult time. Additionally, with the increase of school shootings in recent years, school psychologists often have to discuss these situations with faculty and parents and educate them on a variety of topics, including warning signs, how to facilitate disturbed students getting help, and the emotional aftermath of a school shooting.

Be Open and Communicate Without Judgement

More than anything, a school psychologist must be able to create an environment that students will feel safe in, which means creating a space free of judgment. When working with children who have had traumatic experiences or severe mental health issues, it can be hard to remain neutral and not act surprised or outraged when learning of a child’s sometimes horrific experience. However, to provide students with guidance and the treatment they deserve, school psychologists must always be aware of the space they curate and whether or not it allows students to express themselves in a safe way.