Intermountain Healthcare

Learning Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Saratoga Springs, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/05/2021 --The potential mental health effects from the COVID-19 pandemic are profound. The pandemic has been associated with uncertainty, school closures, shutdowns, social isolation, and economic vulnerability —- and these stressors can be linked to mental health issues. COVID-19's mental health consequences are likely to be present for longer and peak later than the actual pandemic.

Then add economic downturns, racial injustices, and political unrest, just to name a few, and what people encountered was mental well-being moments that experts say can be challenging for many.

"In the final week of 2020, we have an opportunity to reflect on what this year has meant for us and how it changed us," said Dr. Travis Mickelson, medical director for Mental Health Integration at Intermountain Healthcare. "We have all been impacted by this pandemic, some of us more than others."

Research has studied the effect of large-scale traumas and disasters on communities. Not only has this pandemic caused mental health challenges for many, but it also been given the opportunity to practice and develop resilience. Some people think of resilience as a trait one is born with (hardiness) or an outcome (presence of post-traumatic stress or growth).

Resilience is neither lucky or passive and can be strengthened with practice. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity. When an individual gets far enough past an adversity to look back with perspective, they can consider its effects on their lives and identities, reflect on the skills developed, the actions taken, the lessons learned, and the reasons they kept going.

Dr. Mickelson say by asking our "What do I do when times get hard?" it reminds us of our personal skills and characteristics that we can use. The question "Who helps me when times get hard and who can I help?" can address our social supports and sense of connection. Finally, asking ourselves "Who do I want to be when this is over and what will it have meant for me?" helps us to focus on a sense of meaning and purpose.

"Think of resilience like a seesaw or balance scale where negative experiences tip the scale towards negative outcomes, positive experiences towards positive outcomes, and shifting the fulcrum so that the scale can handle more negative experiences without leading to negative outcomes," said Dr. Mickelson.

Experts agree the COVID pandemic is far from over, but vaccines are providing a bright light at the end of this tunnel. Until then, individuals need to be deliberate about navigating the middle of the resilience process, the part between getting through and looking back. Dr. Mickelson says we will do this by harnessing resources that work for us based on our individual and community needs.

Intermountain Healthcare offers a free emotional relief hotline for anyone who needs mental health support related to COVID-19 by calling 833-442-2211. For other information on Intermountain Healthcare services or facilities, please visit

About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.