Helping those who help: How are mental health professionals coping?

We're talking to the people providing the help for mental health awareness month
Posted at 5:36 AM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 06:00:32-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Mental health professionals are stepping up big time during the pandemic and their work is paying off.

"What’s really good is that I’m starting to see that the stigma of mental health is starting to recede, people are coming forth more and really asking for help," said Dr. Wendy Weinstein, Unit Chief at BryLin Hospital in Buffalo.

Clients ask Dr. Weinstein questions every day, but there’s one question she rarely gets. What's it like for you having to help others every day?

"Basically we do the best we can. It can cause anxiety. You worry—did I do the right thing? Did I not pick up something? Did I miss something? It can be very draining, very draining," said Dr. Weinstein.

Some mental health professionals feel a sense of guilt when they can't give their clients answers. Dr. Weinstein says it's common for the helpers to reach out for help.

It was a difficult job before the pandemic, but over the past year, mental health professionals are dealing with new issues.

"We were all fearful to come around each other, we lost that connection with our clients and with our colleagues," said Carly Adornetto, Program Director, Buffalo East Children’s Clinic.

Adornetto works with children and families, who she says have some of the most prevalent issues.

Mental health professionals have turned to telehealth to continue care for their clients during the pandemic, but Dr. Weinstein finds that telehealth can make her job harder.

"What happens is, you don’t get the full view of the patient. We really rely on them physically to understand what’s going on. Their facial expression, are they tearful, are they crying and it’s really hard on us to make assumptions which we’re always taught to not do," said Dr. Weinstein.

To keep workers motivated at Best Self, they're working to foster a positive work environment with Mindfulness Wednesdays and virtual support options.

But they’re finding it hard to manage all of the people looking for help.

"With that increased demand, and we certainly haven’t seen a concurrent increase in staff, so we are aggressively recruiting," said Elizabeth Woike-Ganga, President and CEO, Best Self Behavioral Health.

And as a result, most mental health professionals have a backlog of patients waiting for care.

"I’m doing most of my patients live, but for some providers it’s a few months away," said Dr. Weinstein.

But help is still out there. You can always call crisis services at 716-834-3131 and they’re still working to provide same day or next day appointments at Best Self.

"We are still here. I want to encourage people that they can seek out the support. We’re all in this together," said Adornetto.

At Best Self, they have open positions for certified counselors and nurses but they also need care coordinators who don’t need that certification and people to work in their offices, to answer phones and help them manage the load.

Click here to apply.

Important Phone Numbers
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, the following resources are available 24/7:
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Services (local) 716-834-3131
  • Trans Lifeline 1-877-565-8860
  • Trans Lifeline Canada 1-877-330-6366