With mental health at the top of our list right now as we are self-quarantining during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), discovering new ways for individuals to help process the global pandemic that has taken our world by storm couldn’t be more necessary. As the WHO and our local governments are strongly encouraging us to “self-quarantine” and stay isolated, we are struggling to cope with said isolation.

As of Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 209,839 confirmed cases globally with 16,556 new cases. There have been 8,778 deaths with 828 newly reported deaths. COVID-19 has completely taken what was supposed to be a beautiful 2020 into what will probably be a year’s worth of hell.

Just this week, we met a bad-ass female psychologist who specializes in ‘biblical psychology’ which she believes, can help individuals recognize, accept, and address mental health challenges.

‘Biblical Psychology,’ according to Dr. Kelsei LeAnn, LPCT, is the study of theological principles, intertwined with psychological techniques. A 22-year-old Licensed Christian Therapist  from Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. LeAnn’s practice is centered around childhood trauma and coaching for entrepreneurial and emotional growth. 

Grit Daily: Thank you Dr. LeAnn for speaking with us today. For the uninitiated, why this isn’t as prevalent of a technique today? In other words, why haven’t we heard of it much?

Kelsei-LeAnn-Grit-Daily
Dr. Kelsei LeAnn, licensed Biblical Psychologist

Dr. Kelsei LeAnn: Most people think that the Bible contradicts mental health, but it actually endorses it. Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a therapist; I also knew how important my faith was to me—thus, merging the two together was a dream of mine that I got the chance to successfully complete at The Hope Bible Institute.

The Institute had an accelerated program that allowed me to accomplish this at 22-years-old.

How Do We Stay ‘Accessible’ While Self-Quarantining?

Last year’s Mental Health America’s 2019 State of Mental Health report revealed that more than 56% of the African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Indigenous population don’t have healthcare. Even more concerning from the report was the finding that the average American doesn’t have accessible access to mental health services—or easily accessible resources available to them.

Now, take that and amplify it on a global scale as we continue to feel the destruction that COVID-19 has caused. With hundreds of millions of people across the world self-quarantining, the world’s resources and utilities have essentially stopped or slowed down which has put hundreds of thousands out of jobs and even onto the streets.

The report also reflected that the number of uninsured Americans nearly doubled from 2012 to 2017—but when we factor in children and the suicide rate in children under 12-years-old, those figures have nearly tripled from 2010 to 2020. ‘

It’s only fair to assume this year’s numbers for what will be the 2020 State of Mental Health will be abysmal.

GD: With almost every state advising residents to ‘self-quarantine’ and stay indoors, as restaurants, bars, and shops closed, how can your industry maintain that ‘accessibility’ and availability that is more necessary than ever?

KL: What ‘accessibility’ means in this context is that if an individual doesn’t have accessible mental health services, those services are obviously not attainable, which makes it inconsistent with obtaining proper treatment. It’s more likely for a child whose nine-years-old to commit suicide due to bullying, than a fifteen-year-old in this day in age.

GD: What’s the most important quality of a mental health professional in today’s presence of social media and electronics?

KL: The most important quality, in my opinion, is the ability to make yourself relatable to your audience. Make yourself accessible with the knowledge your patient has. Many people cannot afford consistent therapy, but they’re always on social media—using your platform for good is the best way to not just gain visibility, but to establish credibility in your area of expertise.

GD: What factors do you assess before coming up with a plan for an individual under your care?

KL: I always take into consideration the culture and background of my client. If my client is African-American, I recognize a history of cultural trauma, resulting from movements like slavery; if my client is Hispanic, I consider their trauma and factors that have been politically heated over the years; I also consider the environments that all my clients were raised in.

Was it a two-parent home? One-parent? Were his or her parents ever married? It’s important for me to understand the relationship dynamics that my patient grew up with, so that I may better access how they view relationships in today’s age as an adult.

GD: With the prevalence of social media, what advice would you give someone struggling with the pressures surrounding the constant need to be ‘social’?

KL: I would remind those individuals that they only see what people want them to see. Although social media is a great tool, it’s also a mirror. What you allow yourself to see, view, watch, listen and read becomes your worldview—that’s why I’m an advocate of only following accounts that actually help you versus accounts that simply look ‘good’ to follow. Social media has become a ‘highlight realm’—it very rarely shows the lows that we all encounter. So, you aren’t missing anything except the opportunity to fully be yourself in that moment.

GD: In recent events, the death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant sent massive shockwaves across the world—in addition to the other seven victims who lost their lives. If a patient presented to you, how would you address this horrific tragedy to those children on Gianna’s basketball team, classmates—and of course, the family and friends of the Bryant family?

KL: I had patients the day after Kobe died come into my office crying the entire session, it was a very heavy week. I would encourage the students to first speak to an adult they trust about their feelings, kids at that age are still learning how to process their feelings, due to them processing they’re still unsure of what they truly feel and how it directly applies to them in that moment, talking to an adult that they trust is the best way for them to create a safe space where they don’t have to force how they feel, they can just feel and process.

There is no clear way to grieve. People grieve in different ways, the best way to grieve is surrounded by support. I encourage them to surround themselves with people they love and ones that are going through the same thing, having your teammates is the best thing for them, and for Vanessa Bryant to be surrounded by family that helps her as she processes her grief will help her tremendously.