Anxieties, frustrations still high as pandemic continues, UNC psychiatrist says

Josh Chapin Image
Thursday, July 29, 2021
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"If you want to work there, get the vaccine. If you don't want to work there, don't get the vaccine."

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Imagine Robin Featherstone's anxiety when she found out her 11-year-old son was exposed to COVID-19 at camp.

"We got the letter and I panicked," said Robin, a Durham mom who battled the virus herself.

During an interview with ABC11, her son Jayce's test came back negative.

"Anxiety is real and we have to understand not shame people for it," she said.

The UNC Department of Psychiatry said they are continuing to see a massive outreach for services.

"People do not want to be living with this degree of uncertainty," said Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, chair of the department at UNC. "Is school opening? Is it not opening? Will my kids be wearing masks when they go?"

She said there's frustration and anxiety that the pandemic isn't ending as quickly as once thought.

Dr. Meltzer-Brody said it's important to remember you are in good company if you're feeling uncertain.

"Folks should know everyone else is -- so is Simone Biles!" she said. "It is pervasive and there is no shame in that and we should put stigma in the garbage and support each other."

Robin said she started talking to someone outside of her family months after contracting the virus.

"The mental health piece is real," Robin said. "I have had to talk to somebody. I'm not ashamed to say it because you need to talk to somebody."

Her next hurdle is sending Jayce back into the classroom in a few weeks.

"We're going to have an extra little talk with our social butterfly about keeping that mask on," she said. "We're going to try our best, he has to go to school and we're just going to be prayerful that others will do what we do."

Dr. Meltzer-Brody encourages people to be compassionate with themselves and others. Also, try to be honest with where you are and know that everyone is feeling the same thing in some shape or form.