RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
With a focus on resiliency, Chief Master Sgt. Ernesto J. Rendon, Jr., 86th Airlift Wing command chief, hosted a virtual town hall, with a panel of resiliency experts, April 6.
Panel members included Lt. Col. Ryan L. Buhite, 86th Medical Group mental health flight commander, and Dr. Meghan Lindeman, Integrated Resilience Office violence prevention integrator, joined Rendon to discuss resiliency and answer questions from the Kaiserslautern Military Community on how to deal with the unique stressors which are accompanying the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Subject matter experts highlighted ideas and activities to help cope with current lifestyle changes. Below are summarized answers to some of the questions asked.
Do we need to be concerned about long term impacts on people's mental health after the pandemic finally ends?
There has been some research in the past where people have had effects of irritability, anger and depression that have lasted until after the quarantine was over. The more resilient we are during the quarantine, the better we're going to be able to stay resilient after. Take as many steps as you can now to be resilient. Be flexible, set routines and maintain healthy behaviors.
If a parent gets the virus, how do they tell their young kids they have to stay away from them in a way that doesn't cause the kids additional stress?
It’s always difficult to discuss uncomfortable topics with children. It's really important to be honest with our children. Using age-appropriate information and language can go a long way in helping children feel more certain during this time. Also, keep in mind you don't have to go into specific details. It might be enough to just say, ‘dad is going to stay in his bedroom for now, because he isn't feeling well. You'll be able to spend time with him when he's feeling better.’ Then, focus your children’s attention toward something positive they can do to connect with that family member. This might include something like making a get well card or helping make food so they have an opportunity to connect.
If someone is pregnant, and is due to deliver in the next few weeks, what are the current rules in place for Landstuhl Regional Medical Center visitors? Is someone still allowed to be present during labor and birth, as it used to be?
As of right now, the answer is yes. Keep in touch with your providers at the obstetrician/gynecologist clinic. Also, plug in with our Landstuhl Regional Medical Center sites for the latest information.
I feel this virus is going to cause me to have a compulsive behavior to avoid touching things and wash my hands all the time. Will that be normal?
Some worry is adaptive because it causes us to make a difference in our behavior to a perceived threat. If it gets us to take immediate action, that's when worry can be helpful. When it becomes unproductive, that's when we want to take a look to see if we can do something about it. After all this is over, we are all probably going to be more cognizant of not touching our face and washing our hands more.
How can I help my teenager feel less lonely when they can't see their friends?
One thing parents can do is acknowledge their teenagers experience. Recognizing and having that dialogue can help them to understand they're in a situation that feels uncomfortable. Have an open brainstorm session with their teenagers to find out what could make this better for them. Oftentimes teens know what would help, they just need the door opened so they can ask if those things would be possible. Keep in mind, if your teenagers or other children are spending time in big virtual calls, or spending time talking to their friends, it’s good to check in with them to see what they're hearing. Take some time to provide them with correct information from credible sources so misinformation doesn't start to spiral for your teenagers.
I’m showing symptoms, but cannot isolate due to manning. What is the availability of testing?
Please contact the COVID hotline. There should be no circumstance where a person is restricted from making that contact. There are quarantine notices that are signed and delivered to the member. It's really not optional; if you have symptoms, those need to be addressed by our medical experts. They'll run through protocols to identify whether testing is necessary.
What are some ways to deal with anxiety and stress while coping with COVID-19?
It's really important now to focus on what you can control and what you can't. One of the things you can do is journaling, particularly if you have a hard time talking to other people. Write your thoughts and feelings down on paper as they come, they are your worries or concerns. Oftentimes that works by helping us think about things in a different way, maybe seeing things from a different perspective. Often when we read it the next day, it may not be that much of a concern. Also, look at what you wrote down to see what you can control and what you cannot. Focus your attention on what you can control and put those in your routines.
What are some signs I should look for in my children to determine if they are feeling stress or anxiety about the pandemic?
It is really important to keep in mind many of our children are feeling stressed at this time. Their routines have been disrupted, so they likely feel uncomfortable. Children might be a little cranky or they might need a little more attention than usual. Find any opportunity you can to give your children positive attention right now and connect with them over positive activities.
Is there any more information for TRICARE expanding tele-therapy coverage for children who participate in cognitive behavioral therapy?
I will say the American Psychological Association and the Air Force medical operation agency have all put out encouragement of doing video teleconferencing therapy. The Ramstein clinic and off base providers are trying their best to incorporate video teleconferencing and telephone therapy. It is a challenging time, but these services are still really important.
A lot of people are either quarantined or otherwise isolated, and working from home. What are some ways supervisors can remain connected with their people even if they can't see them?
It’s important supervisors make time to reach out to those they might not be seeing everyday now, but who they still supervise. Some people are really good at connecting. When physical distancing measures started, they got creative and were able to come up with ways to connect to those around them. Other may struggle a little bit with making and maintaining those connections. They might isolate a lot more, which is what we don't want to see happen. Spend some time reaching out via text message, make a phone call, schedule a video conference with that person and just have a 20-minute chat. Some people think, ‘”oh, they don't want to talk to me, I’m their supervisor.” The reality is, people are looking to connect. People want those opportunities to talk to other people. Get as close to face-to-face communication as you can. It can go long way in helping people feel resilient during this time and still connected to their workplace.
The full virtual town hall video can be viewed on the Ramstein Facebook page. Visit the Ramstein homepage (www.ramstein.af.mil) and go to the COVID-19 tab at the upper right side of the page, for the most up-to-date information.