As masks come off, anxiety levels increase - for some

Posted at 10:42 AM, May 18, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- As more Virginians get a COVID-19 vaccination and remove their masks, mental health experts warn that the easing of restrictions could ramp up anxiety for some people.

Lekesha Broussard, whose Village Children & Family Services provides mental health support to those who need it, said she encouraged those with re-entry anxiety to understand their boundaries and research where they're going before they leave so they can mentally prepare.

She also said we should all be mindful that people have varying comfort levels about masks.

"To pass judgment or try to force someone to see things through your lens, you're only seeing that one part," she said. "I'm walking outside with or without a mask, you're not aware if I maybe have a husband at home, who has cancer or a child who's sick. So I don't want to risk taking something back home to them. And I really shouldn't be subject to your judgment on that one way or the other."

Broussard said giving yourself grace and verbalizing your feelings were two ways to cope with stress.

"You have to be your biggest advocate," she said. "The conversations need to continue, and people need to feel free to express how they feel. I think for the first time being able to say I'm not OK is OK. We don't have to pretend that we are all right. We are all adjusting."

If you or someone you know is really struggling and in need of mental health support, you can always get help on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.