Therapists have had to meet the psychological needs of a population in the throes of an ongoing global pandemic while maintaining some sense of stability in an evolving and challenging world in their own lives.
According to a 2021 Statistics Canada study, 70% of participating health care workers reported that their mental health was "somewhat worse now" or "much worse now" compared to the previous year. This is a recurring theme with all of Canada’s health and care providers, a group overworked in the best of times. Today, two years into the COVID-19 global pandemic, the conditions that impact mental health continue to evolve.
“I have colleagues working with eight clients a day, on a bagel, a cup of coffee, and no bathroom breaks,” says Roxanne Francis, psychotherapist and industry leader serving Ontario for over 12 years.
Francis noticed a trend across the industry, particularly with those who worked in private practice. People were feeling exhausted and burned out. Last year, in response to the vaccine rollout and its effect on mental health, Francis created and hosted an event called the Therapist's Lounge. A place for therapists and mental health workers to come together and pool their knowledge, The lounge helps therapists set themselves up to meet the needs of their business so they can better meet the needs of their clients.
“When you go to therapy, you shouldn’t be worried about the health of your therapist; if your therapist is burned out, you’re not going to be getting as much from this profession as you can get,” she says.
In most cases, when therapists have the opportunity to gather, the conversation is strictly client-centred and focused on ensuring quality care is provided to the communities they serve. However, Francis wanted to create something different, a gathering that centres on the mental health needs of the professionals.
The goal of this event is for people to know that just because they can do it alone doesn’t mean they should.
“You can work at that pace and do it all yourself,” she says.“But know that it’s not sustainable.”
Francis notes how that heavy feeling that comes with taking on and doing too much signifies looming burnout. Community gathering events like these help remind professionals to take some of their advice, slow down, and seek support.
The Therapist’s Lounge facilitates an environment where folks can cross-refer, share information and tap into a community of practice that is equally involved and committed to doing the challenging work of supporting a nation through a pandemic.
Francis aims to cultivate a place of connection and an environment where professionals feel supported and seen. In the second year of the Therapist’s Lounge, she will speak on some of the ways she fell into and crawled out of burnout.
It will hold space to hear from and ask questions of professionals who poured into her, like her lawyer, marketing specialist, accountant, and other professionals that have provided support across the lifespan of her practice and business. The goal is to help illustrate the need for and value of having a team to support the development of private practice and the importance of community in sustaining quality care.
The second annual Therapist’s Lounge event takes place on August 7th from 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm at 14 Leswyn Road, North York.