COVID-19 and Mental Health Tips to Know

The uncertainty of COVID-19 brings about a vulnerable time for everyone but especially for those with mental illness. It’s important to know that 1 in 5 adults in the US experience a mental illness in any given year. For those with anxiety and/or depression, this time can be even more challenging. The social work team at the Weinberg Family CP Center is here for you. They share some general “tips” on coping with social distancing:

  1. Keep a routine. Maintain normative sleep patterns. Try to get in bed/wake up at the times you would if you were going to work. People thrive in routine/structure. Try to keep that as stable as possible. 
  1. Spending time with friends/family from afar. Social distancing does not mean being antisocial. Take this time to catch up with others and check in with people in your inner circle whether it be a phone call, text, virtual hangout, or email. You can also watch a movie or show and watch it at the same time or even have a virtual game night!
  1. Take advantage of your free time. Is there a project you’ve been putting off? A desire to complete a puzzle? Listen to a podcast? or read that book you’ve always wanted to read but didn’t seem to have free time? Find something that you’ve been wanting to do and take advantage of this time inside.
  1. Try to relax. Make a calming playlist, journal, or practice meditation/yoga methods that can help relax your mind and body to get you through this stressful time.
  1. Support the greater good. If you can’t find something that is fulfilling to you and your time, focus on helping the community. Seek those in need; elders, kids who are out of school totally, people with low immune systems etc. and see how you can help. Maybe you can’t physically go food shopping for them, but maybe you can find someone who can. Use your feelings of isolation/boredom to fuel support for the greater good.
  1. Talk to a therapist. Having a professional that can help you with your anxiety and depression is so important, especially during this stressful time. Virtual therapy can be such a powerful tool and during this isolating time, your mental health needs to be a top priority. A therapist can help you and your mental health in numerous ways whether you know you need therapy or not.

For those with anxiety: try to limit the amount of news coverage you watch. It can become all-consuming. Rather, make sure you’re watching coverage by medical experts- not necessarily the politically-motivated media and not all day, every day. 

For those with depression: this is a unique time, especially with social distancing it can exacerbate symptoms. At this time, it’s important to remember you’re not alone. Journal your mood/feelings and accept help from others. Crises can often too bring out the best in people- accept support. It’s helpful to some to remember that you are not alone during this time- we are all affected and sometimes that “mantra” can help counter the feelings of isolation.

If you would like to talk with a mental health professional please call 212-305-5616.

If you would like to talk with someone for supportive counseling, advocacy, or if you have any barriers to coordinating care during this time, please call 212-305-2700.

Mental Health and Cerebral Palsy: What You Need to Know

When someone has a disability, oftentimes their mental health is overlooked due to the primary focus on physical health. However, mental healthcare doesn’t discriminate, and we all need a little extra support at different times of our lives, and this is where psychotherapy can be so important. At the Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center (WFCPC), we want to give our patients and their families the resources they need to get the most comprehensive and holistic care possible.

Jan Moskowitz, LCSW, (pictured above) is part of the Weinberg Family CP Center social work team and provides individual psychotherapy sessions for cerebral palsy patients of all ages, and also for their caregivers. Below, she answers questions about all things psychotherapy that you need to know.

Psychotherapy and Cerebral Palsy:

Q: What is psychotherapy?
A: In general terms, it is talk therapy and a way to treat mental health. It is primarily used as a way to get out thoughts and feelings to a non-biased third party. It is not psychiatry and therefore medicine cannot be prescribed, however, at the Weinberg Family CP Center, we can work collaboratively with your psychiatrist for the most comprehensive care.

Q: Who is psychotherapy for at the Weinberg Family CP Center?
A: Anyone and everyone with Cerebral Palsy, including family members, who have the capacity to communicate and talk about their thoughts and feelings.

Q: Why is this important to our patients and their families?
A: Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health. When something is not right with your physical health you go and make it better, the same needs to be done for your mental health.

Q: What types of psychotherapy do you commonly use at the Weinberg Family CP Center?
A: I personally don’t stick to one type of psychotherapy; I like to use an eclectic approach that matches the needs of my patients. A lot of times, I will pull from psychodynamic approaches that focus on unconscious thoughts and feelings, working from the past forward. I also use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with the goal of identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and replacing them with more adaptive thoughts. Family Systems theory is also helpful as it focuses on the family unit as whole and utilizes such unit as the holding space for complex interactions among its members.

Q: How is this related to CP care?
A: We all need a little extra support at different times of our lives. At the WFCPC we want to give our patients and their families the resources they need to get the most comprehensive care possible, and psychotherapy is one aspect of that.

Q: What is one thing you want to tell the community about psychotherapy?
A: I understand there is a strong stigma surrounding mental health and a goal of mine is to normalize it as much as possible. You don’t have to have a huge trauma in your life or significant issue to say I need a little more support. The goal of the WFCPC is to provide holistic care and your mind is just as important as your body.

Q: Who do you work with?
A: Currently, I work with young adults/adults with cerebral palsy and the caregivers of those patients. We are looking to expand toward providing services to children in the near future, which we are really excited about.

Q: What would be next steps?
A: I am a licensed practitioner in both the states of NY and NJ and accept many insurance plans. We know at the WFCPC physical access can be challenging, so I also offer these services via telehealth. Anyone can self-refer by contacting us on their own, and I also take referrals from any of the physicians and medical staff as well.

Interested in what the process for psychotherapy at WFCPC looks like moving forward? Click here.

Psychotherapy at the Weinberg Family CP Center

Jan Moskowitz, LCSW, is part of the social work team at WFCPC and provides individual psychotherapy sessions for cerebral palsy patients of all ages, and also for their caregivers. She walks us through what the typical process of starting psychotherapy sessions with her might look like:

Step 1 – Phone screening: This is a brief call to find out more about who you are, what you are looking for in regards to therapy, your basic demographics, high risk issues etc. This call will help to see if I am the right fit for you, or if you need to be referred for more immediate attention somewhere else.

Step 2 – Schedule an intake in person: This is a one-hour appointment focused on questions about your history of health and mental health, past experiences with mental health, any impactful events in your life I should know about, etc. Once this takes place, we are ready to start scheduling our follow up sessions.

Step 3 –  Follow up sessions: After steps 1 and 2 have been completed, we begin weekly sessions which are about 45 minutes long and continue to meet until mutually agreed upon goals have been achieved. These sessions are typically recurring appointments, same day/time each week, for everyone’s ease of scheduling, commitment, and consistency. We do have Telehealth as an option for those who can’t travel to the Weinberg Family CP Center regularly, but I still prefer in-person appointments once every 3 months.

For more information on Psychotherapy at WFCPC click here. To contact Jan directly: jm4100@cumc.columbia.edu.

Connecting Patients to Better Mental Healthcare: The Weinberg CP Center Social Work Team

Treating cerebral palsy is more than just caring for patients’ physical wellbeing – it’s their mental healthcare too. Jan Moskowitz, LCSW, and Sabrina Miranda, LCSW comprise the social work team at the Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center and are at the forefront of treating patients’ mental health needs through numerous approaches.

Continue reading “Connecting Patients to Better Mental Healthcare: The Weinberg CP Center Social Work Team”