OpEd: Building Resilience to Emerge Mentally Stronger Post-pandemic

Getty Images
This past year has struck the state of New York and the Town of Babylon in unimaginable and horrific ways. Lives have been taken, our day-to-day jobs have been disrupted, and many people have lost a sense of stability.
The mental health of those in New York and across the nation has been strained by this pandemic and we are all feeling a loss of control. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, an overwhelming 78 percent of American adults believe the pandemic to be a major source of stress in their lives.

This statistic is incredibly alarming. During this time of stress and anxiety, it is clear that our communities are hurting. Not only are we experiencing unprecedented times of fear, isolation, and loneliness, but our current political climate, and the events of Jan. 6, have brought about trauma and the need for safety.

We have seen our neighbors, our friends, our families, and even ourselves, experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, and we all want to find a way to assist in coping with the world surrounding us.

For years, I have struggled with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks myself. There are days when I have experienced racing thoughts, a lack of appetite, absence of sleep, and the inability to leave my home. I know that others experience these same symptoms as well as additional symptoms on a greater scale.

As the supervisor of Babylon, I am not expected to allow my anxiety and depression to impact my day-to-day affairs and yet it has. I realized that I could not keep this to myself. In order to not only help myself, but to have the ability to provide for my constituents, I had to learn to build resilience and openly communicate about the mental health struggles I am facing.

I know that I do not struggle alone. For the health of Babylon’s citizens, I have partnered with TLC Virtual Resiliency (TLC-VR). TLC-VR specializes in building resilience and wellness through a social support network and customized, virtual workshops, and helps to prepare individuals to cope with stressful life events. TLC-VR will give the residents of Babylon the opportunity to grow and adapt to adversity, anxiety, and everyday stresses that people may face in both their personal and professional lives.

Now more than ever, there is a need for building resilience across the Town of Babylon. We are each encountering daily obstacles throughout the pandemic and need to assist one another in alleviating stress and anxiety. For those learning to grapple with the pressures of this newfound world, my office is always open.

Please know that I am here for you. I am here for my friends, my colleagues, and of course, my constituents. I am accessible to you at all hours and will work tirelessly to ensure your safety and health during these times. Together we will not back down from speaking about mental health, we will check in on our neighbors, and we will build resiliency throughout our community of the Town of Babylon.

Rich Schaffer is the Supervisor of the Town of Babylon.

Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters here. Sign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here. Sign up for discounts by becoming a Long Island Press community partner here.