Ep 75: Identifying & Coping with the Mental Health Effects of COVID-19

Workers in the healthcare industry have always prioritized others over self, and that sacrifice has grown even larger during the COVID-19 pandemic. That also means we have even less time for self-care and that’s leading to an increase in anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. We’re joined by Linda Stone, DNP, MSN, CRNA, and Rigo Garcia, MBA, APN-BC, MSN, CRNA, to talk about what you can do to help someone that might be struggling and find out what resources are available to you on a state and national level. 

Click the timestamps below to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

On This Episode:

Healthcare workers have always shown an amazing amount of selflessness. It’s a characteristic that you need to possess in order to work long hours in stressful situations.

But it’s also a quality that’s leading to growing mental health problems for our profession. The COVID-19 health crisis has forced many frontline workers to take on longer shifts and put off their own self-care even more that they normally would, and this is exacerbating a problem that’s already existed.

That’s why we felt it was so important to tackle this delicate subject on the Beyond the Mask Podcast. We obviously can’t do that alone so we reached out to two incredible people that are working diligently to assist SRNAs and CRNAs that are struggling to cope through this pandemic.

The first guest we have on the show is Linda Stone, DNP, MSN, CRNA, who is the president of the North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists. She also serves as chair of the ANA Peer Assistance Advisors Committee and assistant program director for the nurse anesthesia program at UNC-Greensboro.

We also have Rigo Garcia, MBA, APN-BC, MSN, CRNA, on with us today. He is the CEO of the Parkdale Center, which is providing an incredible recovery program for professionals.

The goal for this episode is to have a straight-forward and honest conversation about mental health issues that so many of us are dealing with. You might not realize that around 10% of the general population deals with some type of substance abuse disorder. In the healthcare industry, however, that number is closer to 15-20%.

This is going to be an issue we have to face for a significant amount of time so it’s important for this to be addressed now. We’re all dealing with these challenges and it’s vital that we look out for each other because it’s so difficult to ask for help yourself.   

The majority of the time it’s a family member that makes that initial call for help so be aware of the signs that someone might be suffering. Almost 94% of the calls that Parkdale gets comes from someone other than the person that needs the help. So we’ll discuss them on the show to give you an idea of what to look for, but Rigo said the people that eventually get help say the primary feeling they have is relief.

Soon our country will begin returning to normal and many people will stop worrying about the frontline workers, but those are the people that will really need help once the crisis has passed. This goes for both SRNAs and CRNAs and that’s why we are discussing the resources that are available to all.

Don’t forget that the AANA has a helpline where you can talk to a live person and you can get all of that information here. The Parkdale Center also has so many resources that people aren’t aware of so please take a minute to visit their website and see how they might be able to help you or someone you love.

Here all the contact info you need to access the many resources available:  

AANA 24/7 Helpline Number: 800-654-5167

Check it out at the top of the page and use the timestamps to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

1:55 – We’re joined today by Linda Stone.

3:16 – Rigo Garcia is also on the show with us today.

3:53 – Some background on Garcia and Parkdale.  

5:02 – Today we’re talking about coping with the mental affects of COVID.

5:34 – What type of mental health issues is Linda seeing with SRNAs?

7:22 – What is Rigo seeing from CRNAs?

8:17 – Many nurses are facing serious mental health issues.  

10:37 – Anxiety and depression has been common in the nursing profession for some time.   

11:37 – How many people in our population have substance abuse issues?

13:33 – Why is it important for us to be talking about this right now?

14:42 – What are the signs that someone might be in trouble or needs help?

17:04 – What are some coping strategies you can use?

21:28 – What should you do if you suspect someone is dealing with mental health issues?

23:00 – Here are some of the resources that are available from the AANA.           

26:49 – We all need to exercise more empathy as a society.

28:34 – What is Rigo hearing from people on the front lines?

30:03 – If you’re worried how someone might react if you attempt to help them, here’s some guidance.

32:57 – The problems Parkdale is seeing during this health crisis.

36:10 – What resources are available to SRNAs?

38:31 – There will likely be long-term effects from COVID-19.

40:00 – Final message from Linda.

40:37 – Final message from Rigo.

“The ingrained culture that we all have in some regards of sacrificing our self-care to help other people and now more people need help, we’re seeing people not taking care of themselves very well.”

-Rigo Garcia, CRNA





Current Events

Dysphoria: Current Understanding & Recommendations to Prevent Post-Op Cognitive Decline

Today we’re exploring a topic that goes deeper into the realms of medicine and neuroscience, and it’s something that affects us all: cognitive health post-surgery. Adam Flowe, Chief CRNA at Duke University Hospital, brings his 20 years of experience and a personal connection to the table, discussing the intricate relationship between anesthesia, surgical stress, and the brain. With the aging population and the rise in surgeries, the question of how these procedures affect our cognitive function is more pressing than ever.

CRNA Careers

Like Mother, Like Daughter: Discover the Unique Bond of a Mother-Daughter CRNA Team

In this heartfelt episode of Beyond The Mask, a story of unique dynamics when working alongside family in the world of anesthesia comes to life. Jeremy and Sharon sit down with a remarkable mother-daughter duo, Melody Secrest and Emily King, both CRNAs, who share their experiences working in the same hospital department. We uncover the challenges and triumphs that come with balancing professional boundaries and personal relationships in the operating room.


Ventilating the Future: CRNAs at the Forefront of Lung Protective Strategies

In this episode, hosts Terry and Garry take listeners on a journey through the evolution of anesthesia, reflecting on the remarkable changes witnessed since their early days in the field. From manual adjustments of OR beds to sophisticated ventilator technologies, they explore the transformative advancements that have revolutionized patient care.




Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifyStitcherTuneIniHeartRadio



J. Cross CRNA
Read More
This podcast is very well put together. I love the hosts Sharon & Jeremy, they do a fantastic job at presenting topics as well as getting great speakers on the show! This is my morning commute podcast everyday! Thank you for all that you do!
Read More
I enjoy listening every morning. Great content and always a pleasure to learn something new.
Read More
I started listening to this podcast religiously early on in my CRNA journey, a year before applying to CRNA school. The content in this podcast was one of my most helpful resources for getting into my first choice school, Wake Forest! It has also been a huge motivator for getting involved with the AANA now and throughout my career. I highly recommend this podcast to every prospective CRNA I meet.
Read More
I appreciate hearing the latest and greatest in the world of Nurse Anesthesiology while also getting Class B credits. Just listen on your commute for a win/win experience. I love the perspectives from Jeremy and Sharon who both ask varied and insightful questions!
Read More
If you’re a CRNA or any medical professional, I highly recommend giving this podcast a listen. Hosts have a great rapport.