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Managing mental health important while waiting for medical procedures

Activity can distract from and reduce stress
Posted at 8:02 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 21:02:05-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With hospitals postponing surgeries, prolonging wait times, and rescheduling patients what toll is it taking on those who need care and the people who provide it?

Mental health experts say that seeking support and learning to "let go" are key to managing uncertainty on top of uncertainty.

"You begin to feel a little hopeless because everything you're doing is just ‘doors close, ‘sorry no beds,’ ‘sorry no beds.’ It gets a little disheartening." said Mona Dabaneh.

Mona Dababneh waited four days to get her mother a bed for surgery to remove her gallbladder.

For patients and caregivers feeling increased anxiety and depression, the wait can loom even larger.

"Just an acknowledgment that the wait time is a burden, is just a huge help for some of our clients, understanding there isn't much that doctors and nurses can do more. We're already asking them to do an extraordinary amount of work right now," said Dr. Charmayne Adams.

"We are human. We are not designed to be isolative individuals. We are designed to be a part of a family, a part of a group and we need to lean on one another to take care of each other," said Ellen McElderry, Methodist Hospital Community Counseling Program.

She also says practicing some form of activity can give individuals a "sense of accomplishment."

"Sitting around and worrying about the ‘what ifs’ is just gonna deepen the depression and anxiety that people are coping with. Take action, reach out, talk to people, make those phone calls, get up and do something," said McElderry.

If parents are struggling to give care to their children, child psychiatrist Dr. Tony Pesavento says the best thing to do is provide constant comfort.

"They want some reassurance that relief is coming — and that can be hard at times, especially when you want the relief now. One thing that I would emphasize especially with our younger kids is to constantly keep them updated on where we are with this process," said Dr. Pesavento.

With so much out of our control, Dr. Adams says we must come to terms with what we can do.

"Exercise, for others it's walking outside, for some it's being with family or friends or pets or connecting with family members, all of that. All of those coping skills we've been using over the pandemic can also be employed to help manage the stress and anxiety of having to wait on a procedure that you were planning on," said Dr. Adams

There are several free support groups like Nami. Reaching out to school or faith-based communities is also key.

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