Modern Minds: Taking Care of Mental Health During Times of Uncertainty

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During a time when nobody knows if social distancing, wearing face masks and communicating with friends, family members and business associates through Zoom is an aberration or the “new normal,” adults can learn a valuable lesson from their children.

“Our kids are good examples for us. They are so resilient,” said Dr. Ashley Bullock, chief psychology officer at Modern Minds, a new integrative mental wellness clinic located in downtown Charleston. “As adults, we overthink things, but kids are much more rooted in the present moment, which helps them flexibly adapt to changing circumstances.”

Modern Minds opened its doors this summer to help adults struggling with anxiety or depression access evidence-based care and incorporate wellness tools that promote growth. While Modern Minds was not established specifically to help adults deal with the added anxiety and stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it arrived in time to assist them in adapting to the constant uncertainty.

Ashley Bullock, Ph.D, Modern Minds Chief Psychology Officer and Psychologist

Mental health challenges are wide-spread and are increasing as a result of the current problems. “Folks struggling with mental health challenges want more than symptom reduction; they want sustainable change,” said Dr. Bullock. “The first step toward creating sustainable change is recognizing that anxiety is a normal, even useful, part of our lives. Our challenge is to manage stress and anxiety and act in ways consistent with our values”.

With so many questions remaining related to this school year, however, breaking out of the cycle of rumination can be a significant challenge: when is school going to open? Will I be able to manage my work life with the new schedule changes? Are children and teachers going to be safe? Will my child fall behind? What if a student tests positive for the coronavirus?

With all that uncertainty, what can you do as a parent to help manage the added anxiety?

“Parents and their kids should focus on what they can control rather than ruminating over the negative things that have happened since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” said Dr. Bullock. “Taking the time to focus on what is within your control and how it aligns with what you, and your family values can bolster your mood and lift your spirits.” Dr. Bullock also pointed out the importance of maintaining our social ties during stressful times. “Many common social outlets – hanging out at a coffee shop or going to dinner with friends – are more challenging now, so we need to be creative.”

Being creative may mean making coffee dates, book club meetups, or children’s play dates virtually rather than in person. Dr. Bullock also mentioned the benefits of active outdoor social gatherings with appropriate social distancing. “Walking on the beach or going for a bike ride with friends benefits us socially and physically.”

Lifestyle behaviors such as these can help us effectively manage excess stress and anxiety, especially during these times. Still, it’s also important to flexibly examine our perspectives when we feel stuck. “That’s something we work with our clients on all the time. Seeking different perspectives can help us break unhelpful rumination and free us from over-focusing on the negative,” said Dr. Bullock. With a child’s natural ability to “be in the moment”, maybe we can all take a lesson from the little ones in our lives.

To learn about Modern Minds, visit