With more than 1,000 employees, Paris Regional Medical Center is the county’s largest employer.

Isolation coupled with stress makes for a bad mental health day. During the coronavirus pandemic, many people have expressed that they suffer from increased levels of depression and anxiety. The United Way of Lamar County recently conducted a survey that found 71.1% of residents felt a noticeable increase in anxiety and stress as a result of the pandemic.

This increase is extremely prevalent in health care workers. That’s why Paris Regional Medical Center adopted policies to help employees feel safer and less stressed while working through the pandemic.

“Team members receive weekly emails featuring content from our vendor ‘Resources for Living’ that addresses depression, dealing with anxiety, working from home and more. PRMC provides Employee Assistance Program access, which provides free, unlimited counseling services to team members. We created the Respite Room for all team members to use, featuring six respite chairs, calming music and aromatherapy for a quick escape when needed,” said Savannah Abbott, Paris Regional’s communications director. “Each week, we blindly draw team members’ names out of a box and those selected receive items that have been donated by community members who approached us seeking a way to give. This has been an awesome way to partner with our community and spread positivity among our crew.”

The hospital maintains its chaplain services for spiritual counseling, which includes a daily message from a chaplain in the community with broadcast throughout the facility, Abbott added.

“In addition to these internal efforts, the outpouring of encouragement and recognition from our community and surrounding region has been nothing short of inspiring. We cannot thank everyone enough for the meals, letters, prayers and so much more. They truly make a difference,” Abbott said.

Health care workers are especially susceptible to post traumatic stress in pandemic times, and experts say that can impede their ability to keep working with the focus their job requires. In hard hit areas, health care workers are constantly in a battlefield mindset, which can trigger anxiety and depression.

“The reasons to offer front-line workers specialized trauma therapy now are both to forestall destructive symptoms from settling in long-term, and to patch up depleted people so they can keep doing their jobs with the intensity demanded of them,” said Dr. Karen Alter-Reid, a psychologist and the founder of the Fairfield County Trauma Response Team in Connecticut.

“Although the Covid-19 crisis is, in the first instance, a physical health crisis, it has the seeds of a major mental health crisis as well, if action is not taken,” a report on mental health during the pandemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Jennifer Bussey is the assistant managing editor of The Paris News. She can be contacted at or 903-785-8744.

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