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‘It’s not a weakness to ask for help, it is a form of strength’

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Thema Bryant, the president of the American Psychological Association.

Covid-19 had triggered anxiety in many Bermudians and those impacted have been urged to be strong enough to ask for help.

That was the message from the president of the American Psychological Association, Thema Bryant, who said: “It’s not a weakness to ask for help, it is a form of strength.”

Dr Bryant was on the island last week as part of a meeting of the organisation’s board.

While here, she also took time to speak with local mental health providers, took part in workshops at the Bermuda College and encouraged students to pursue a career in psychology.

Dr Bryant said: “The APA already had a relationship with the Bermuda Psychological Association, but we had not met in a number of years to reconnect and discuss what challenges are being faced here and what needs they are seeing in the population.”

She said that during discussions, they were told some of the common concerns in Bermuda were related to community violence, joblessness and domestic violence, along with stigmas related to mental health.

Dr Bryant said the global pandemic — and the anxiety that it caused — had worsened many of those issues.

“For many people there was a lot of anxiety,” she said. “There was stress around the unknown because no one alive now had lived through something like this before with how pervasive it was.

“Plus, based on the size of the island, everyone knows someone who died or knew someone who lost someone, so then you have that issue of grief and the grieving process was disrupted. That can make it difficult for some one in terms of closure.

“We also had that piece of lost time, everything just standing still, for some people feelings of isolation and loneliness and depression.”

Dr Bryant said some people were hesitant to discuss their mental health, while for others, anxiety manifested itself physically with pains and illness.

She added that the isolation linked to the pandemic also raised issues of domestic abuse and violence, both because of increased substance abuse and fewer opportunities for intervention.

Dr Bryant said that services are available for those who are struggling with stress and anxiety and urged those who need help to ask for it.

Thema Bryant, president of the American Psychological Association (centre) with representatives of the APA and the Bermuda Psychological Association. (Photograph supplied)

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Published February 01, 2023 at 7:50 am (Updated February 01, 2023 at 7:50 am)

‘It’s not a weakness to ask for help, it is a form of strength’

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