It has been an interesting week.  Emmaus Counseling Center will be open for business with some modifications.  At this point we cannot give you specifics about our plans as it is a fluid and developing situation.  It will likely be a combination of offices at other locations and tele-counseling (webcam counseling).  All our staff will be available in person or through the web.  More details will be coming as we try to make the plan forward clearer.  Please check back on our webpage news or our Facebook page.

Please keep the health workers in your prayers.  This potentially is going to be a very challenging several months for them.   Pray for their health and the health of their families.  Pray for stamina as they will be putting in long hours caring for the sick.  This is a time to come together and support our community.

I also would ask you to keep mental health workers in your prayers as well.  We may not be on the frontlines of the virus called Covid-19, but we are on the frontline of another virulent virus that has widely spread throughout our community “FEAR.”

Fear is a response to a perceived threat to your wellbeing.  As mental health providers, we recognize fear as a healthy response in most dangerous situations.  However, sometime the perceived fear of a situations can hijack our brains and lead to unhealthy and at time dangerous reactions.   I can confidently say that this type of fear has taken over any many ways.

Let’s first cover the real concerns about Covid-19 that have been clearly presented.

  • If you are immune compromised, stay at home.
  • If you are over the age of 70, it is probably advisable that you stay at home as well, but definitely stay at home if your health is poor.
  • If you are at home, I would advise you to keep your news watching/reading to no more that a hour or two a day. Fear will snowball when you read and watch fearful things.  A steady diet of fearful things is not good for your mental health.  Try to find some enjoyable activities (reading a book, watching a movie or tv show, Skyping or Facetiming or calling a friend or family, playing a game and so on).
  • If you are between the ages of 50 and 70 you are still at greater risk than younger people so again if you have health issues it is probably best for you to stay out of public for the next couple months except when absolutely necessary. If you are in good health be cautious.
  • Everyone should take some precautions to protect themselves and the one’s they love (especially those in the higher risk groups).
    • Wash your hands
    • Wash your hands
    • Wash your hand
    • Utilize social distancing (6 feet) from others while in public.
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick or symptomatic
    • If you have symptoms do us a favor stay at home unless you are seeking medical care
    • Cover your cough
    • Cover your cough
    • Cover your cough (Please!)
    • Avoid large gatherings of people
    • Be prepared to in home quarantine if a family member gets the virus

Some have questioned the actions of leaders in our state and country.  First, lets make it clear none of these people are making decisions in a vacuum.  They are being advised by some very intelligent people that have spent their careers studying things like epidemiology and virology.  So the declarations they make are on the best information they have at the time.  This is not a time to be angry with our leaders, but prayerfully supportive of them (regardless of party affiliation).    One quick thing the announcement to ban large gatherings makes a lot of sense from a spread of the virus standpoint.  This intervention will not prevent the spread of Covid-19, but it certainly will slow it down.  This is good because it will allow the medical professionals to respond to those who are ill without being flooded with new cases.  It also give more time to learn about best treatments and hopefully more time to develop a vaccine.

Now the unhealthy fear.  I am going to use toilet paper as an example (it really can be any actions, but this is relevant).  The Washington State Health Department said “Gather extra supplies, such as soap, tissues, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.”  This has led to not just gathering toilet paper, but on to hoarding toilet paper.  This is the type of reaction that can be an example of unhealthy fear.  Even the worst case scenario (you did not heed the department of health and now the shelves are empty) is not really a threat to your wellbeing.  Gross yes!  Threat NO!  The reality is that toilet paper is a relatively new invention.  Human beings have lived  for thousands of years (and in parts of the world continue to live) without toilet paper.  The alternatives may be gross and less sanitary, but not likely a legitimate threat to your wellbeing.   One side note if you do end up having to use alternatives PLEASE DON’T flush them.  The last thing we need now is a failing sewer system.


So what can we do to fight the fear virus?  One word “LOVE.”  We are at our best when we love one another.  When we love we show compassion and support.  When we love we volunteer to help someone that cannot get out by delivering food to them.  When we love we prepare meals for people in quarantine.  When we love we give hug to family members who are having a difficult time.  When we love we avoid close contact when we are sick.  Let’s love and support each other.  Let’s love our community.  Let’s show the world that our compassion is greater than any virus could ever take away.  And that is true whether we are facing Covid-19 or fear.  God Bless You and be safe out there.


~BJ Olson
Executive Director
Emmaus Counseling Center