Priority Spokane launches support group to help those struggling during the pandemic

SPOKANE, Wash. — This pandemic has put all of us on high alert. We’re washing our hands more often and social distancing when possible.

However, it’s not just our physical health we need to watch out for. If you’re struggling with your mental health, you’re not alone.

“Definitely this pandemic has heightened my stress level. It’s the worst thing for somebody with seizures,” said Angela Devine.

Devine was diagnosed with epilepsy at just 13 years old. She’s been told stress will only make her condition worse, but during this pandemic, it’s hard not to

“I have had seizures during this pandemic. I’ve had quite a few, but I know that’s probably brought on from stress,” said Devine.

“Just as we put effort into caring for ourselves when we’re physically sick when we have the flu, we need to put that same effort into caring for our mental health and healing and resolving trauma,” said Ryan Oelrich, Executive Director with Priority Spokane.

That’s why Oelrich decided to team up with the Center for Trauma and Stress Education to bring a program to Spokane that’s accessible for anyone who needs it.

“They have come up with a curriculum that is targeted at addressing some of the stress and trauma caused by COVID-19,” said Oelrich.

The six-week Covid Stress and Trauma Program, also known as CSTEP, is held over Zoom one day a week.

“Just really providing a safe, structured place to first recognize some of the stress and trauma that we’re carrying around with us,” Oelrich said.

The program also provides evidence-based tools that can help keep some of that stress at bay.

“I’ve heard time and time again from folks that they appreciate the space and tools to talk about what’s happened and what they’ve been through,” Oelrich said.

It’s a reminder that no matter what life throws our way, there’s always a way out.

“I definitely feel a lot more motivated to keep doing my job and to not feel so sluggish or depressed,” said Devine.

The CSTEP program is free. Those who have gone through it have the chance to give back by leading their own group. Click HERE to learn more.