Two years ago this month I became the Executive Director of Lutheran Counseling Services. I knew that it would be a new experience and one that would push me out of my comfort zone. I never imagined that during my time as Executive Director a World-Wide pandemic would change our lives and the way this world views mental health. There have been many times over the past COVID year that I have paused and wondered, “How did we get here…..it feels like we are living in a fog.” There have also been times that I have paused and thought, “You are bringing some good things out of this tragedy, Lord.”
This month is not only my two year anniversary in Leadership at LCS but it is also Social Work Month. I am trained as a social worker, which means we are trained to see the world differently. The theory that social workers operate out of is Person In Environment. We are taught to evaluate the various environments around our clients and how it impacts their functioning. By understanding a person’s environments you can understand and often impact their behavior. We are all shaped by the environments we operate in (work, school, family, city, politics). There is so much that impacts us.
In this last year of COVID, all of our environments have changed and shifted. We’ve been bound to specific environments more and are often interacting with less people. This shapes our behaviors, it shapes our mental health, it impacts our mood. If we want to improve our behaviors, mood, and mental health we need to be aware and learn about our environments.
As Executive Director at LCS and a social worker I feel that I am constantly evaluating our environments. The environment we provide mental health in, how we engage with those that are isolated during this pandemic and how our LCS family is caring for their own mental health needs. Our donors, supporters and funders know and recognize the need for mental health and the shift that has taken place recently in our country in response to this pandemic. I am not sure what the future holds, but I know in this next year I will continue to evaluate the environment that is now developing around us and how that impacts the mental health needs in the community. I am also confident that God will continue to work in new and expected ways as we shift into a new culture in our world and here at LCS. I challenge you to open your eyes to the environments around you and recognize how they impact you and where you would like to see change.