Q&A: Executive director of Mosaics of Mercy in Magnolia talks pandemic's mental health toll

Mosaics of Mercy, a Magnolia-based mental health nonprofit, serves as a centralized hub for mental health resources, and its goal is to provide hope, resources and education to the North Houston-area community, Executive Director Sherry Burkhard said. (Courtesy Mosaics of Mercy; designed by Matthew T. Mills/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mosaics of Mercy, a Magnolia-based mental health nonprofit, serves as a centralized hub for mental health resources, and its goal is to provide hope, resources and education to the North Houston-area community, Executive Director Sherry Burkhard said. (Courtesy Mosaics of Mercy; designed by Matthew T. Mills/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mosaics of Mercy, a Magnolia-based mental health nonprofit, serves as a centralized hub for mental health resources, and its goal is to provide hope, resources and education to the North Houston-area community, Executive Director Sherry Burkhard said. (Courtesy Mosaics of Mercy; designed by Matthew T. Mills/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mosaics of Mercy, a Magnolia-based mental health nonprofit, serves as a centralized hub for mental health resources, and its goal is to provide hope, resources and education to the North Houston-area community, Executive Director Sherry Burkhard said.

Burkhard said the nonprofit currently offers a variety of services on its website, as well as a podcast it started in November, which addresses different mental health issues.

Burkhard shared with
Community Impact Newspaper her thoughts on the connections between mental health and the pandemic.

How do stay-at-home orders affect mental health?

If people were already struggling with a mental health issue, one of the healthy coping tools is having a community that supports you. With COVID-19, that healthy coping tool has changed, and while we can create that in some way—[such as virtually,] through Zoom—it is not the same as being able to meet face to face.



How can people stay mentally healthy during a pandemic?

There have been several things, and we are still encouraging virtual support groups and counseling [and] finding [a] routine. One of the challenges we have had going on is the Hope Challenge, where you pick someone [to whom] you send five things you are grateful [for] every day. Using other healthy coping skills, like still getting out to exercise, eating right and keeping a routine, are all important, too.

What are the main mental health challenges you are seeing right now?

Anxiety and depression are high; I would say that grief has definitely come into play. People either have lost someone during this time and don’t have the normal way to walk through that with other people—but [there is] also grief in the sense of change in our lifestyle. Addiction rates have also risen as people have turned to substances to cope with the situation.

What could be the long-term effects of the coronavirus on mental health?

The concern of the mental health community is almost like this is going to be the “Silent Pandemic." The fact that isolation and slowing down and having to face uncomfortable feelings that people may not have the tools to deal with will really start to weigh on people. If they don’t reach out and try to find some healthy tools, then, that can really start to go down a difficult path for them.

How does a stay-at-home order affect children who can no longer go to school?

Calls have started to increase, especially from parents worried about kids at home, as they start to see those struggles. It has really been a full range—for preschoolers, their routine has changed, and they feel the stress in the house. They are frustrated as preschoolers because as far as they are concerned, they want to be out playing with their friends. [High school] seniors have the struggle with the grief over the things they were expecting—prom, graduation and preparing for college—all of that being taken away and feeling uncertain about the fall.

What mental health toll is the pandemic having on front-line workers?

For health care workers, there is a lot of stress because of the anxiety of not knowing if you are exposed from something. There is anxiety for nurses who can’t stay with their families, as they don’t want to expose them to anything from the hospital and [are] carrying more responsibilities than they already did. With their schedules, [they are] not being able to practice that self-care that's needed, so they can start to struggle.

First responders [tend to] have the mentality of “I’ve got this” or “I can handle this,” so sometimes, it takes them longer to reach out for help. So [we should be] encouraging them as a community to do that if they are struggling.



How does a surge of unemployment play into mental health?

That is a huge stressor, where—if you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy [of Needs], where physical needs are at the bottom of the pyramid—if you are struggling to meet those, then, taking care of mental health kind of falls down the list. The most important things you need first are food and shelter, and those are often compromised with unemployment.



MOST RECENT

The proposed project spans 12.4 miles of FM 1488 through Magnolia, Conroe and The Woodlands and includes adding left-turn lanes at major intersections, a raised median through the length of the project and upgrading or installing several traffic signals. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
TxDOT gathering public comments on proposed FM 1488 traffic signals, raised median

The proposed project spans 12.4 miles through Magnolia, Conroe and The Woodlands and includes adding left-turn lanes at major intersections, a raised median through the length of the project and upgrading or installing several traffic signals.

Consuelo Mendez Middle School has consistently received poor ratings from the Texas Education Agency. (Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: State could take over AISD school board if poorly-rated campus does not improve; new furniture store to open in McKinney and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Dec. 3.

Julia De Leon, a Harris County Precinct 3 resident and essential worker, spoke Nov. 30 at commissioners court in favor of establishing the Harris County Essential Workers Board. (Emily Lincke/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County creates board for essential workers during ongoing pandemic

Local essential workers will now be given a voice to improve working conditions during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic after the Harris County Essential Workers Board was established during the Harris County Commissioners Court session Nov. 30.

Reveille Barbecue Co. opened its storefront in Pinehurst Nov. 27 (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Reveille Barbecue Co. opens brick-and-mortar location in Pinehurst

The barbecue restaurant is open Saturdays and Sundays.

Portions of the Tomball Tollway between Boudreaux Road and Grand Parkway will be closed nightly throughout December. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)
Portions of Tomball Tollway between Boudreaux Road, Grand Parkway to be closed nightly throughout December

Closures will take place from 9 p.m.-5 a.m. between Dec. 1-22 and Dec. 27-30.

The school board will consider whether to call a special election to fill the vacancy or make an appointment. (Zara Flores/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Hays CISD to hold special meeting on resignation of board member; Montgomery approves plan for downtown and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Dec. 2.

Reclaimed Resale is hosting its grand opening Dec. 2. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Reclaimed Resale hosting grand opening and ribbon cutting Dec. 2

All proceeds from the boutique-style resale shop will benefit the Tomball Pregnancy Center.

Site work is ongoing at the northeast corner of Cypress Rosehill Road and the Grand Parkway on the border of Tomball and Cypress to add infrastructure and stormwater detention areas for a future retail development. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Retail, multifamily development likely at northeast corner of Cypress Rosehill Road, Grand Parkway

Site work is ongoing at the northeast corner of Cypress Rosehill Road and the Grand Parkway on the border of Tomball and Cypress.

Zoo Lights is a light show within the Houston Zoo that happens every year. (Courtesy Houston Zoo Lights)
10 holiday light displays to see in the Greater Houston area

Check out these nine free and ticketed displays to see through December and January in the Houston area.

Several Texas police departments received $7,500 to be used for purchasing and strengthening K-9 units. (Jishnu Nair/Community Impact Newspaper)
League City, Tomball, Magnolia among Texas police departments receiving K-9 grants

The departments received $7,500 to be used for purchasing and strengthening K-9 units.

Tomball City Council approved a development agreement with Lovett Industrial for 240 acres at Hwy. 249, Rocky Road Nov. 29. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Tomball City Council approves development of 240 acres at Hwy. 249, Rocky Road; JLB Eatery coming soon to Katy and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Dec. 1.