By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4)– Colorado is at a tipping point, could another wave of high COVID cases bring more restrictions, or will vaccinations prevail allowing the pandemic to end over the next few weeks? The uncertainty and length of the pandemic is taking a toll on Coloradans.

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“There’s really no way to overstate just how widespread the effects of the last year are now and will continue to be for years to come. We all have this shared trauma response. Absolutely and the accumulation of grief for all the losses we had. It’s partly grief, it’s partly trauma, it’s also sleep loss and getting out of sync with your schedule and having self-care fall off the radar entirely,” said Dr. Kim Gorgens a Psychology professor at the University of Denver.

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Dr. Gorgens says recent studies show an increase in the number of people ready to return to life as we knew it before the pandemic. But at just over 50%, that means about half of people are still concerned and reluctant to return to more public experiences.

“There’s a learning curve to returning to a routine,” She said. “We have to relearn those social norms in some ways. Do you shake hands or do a fist bump? Is it elbow? This emergence of a new set of learned social behaviors that are totally novel to so many of us.”

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And while many people are hanging on to the hope that the pandemic’s end is a little over a month away, as Gov. Jared Polis has predicted if vaccinations remain on track, other people will struggle.

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“There’s a way we need to give each other the latitude to screw this up as we’re getting our feet back under us,” Dr. Gorgens said.

While the pandemic has made seeking mental health care easier, with more telehealth appointments or access on your phone or computer, Dr. Gorgens says many people aren’t seeking the help they need.

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“A lot of people don’t access care because they assume there’s someone else worse off than them who really needs that care. The truth is, you can access mental health care in whatever way makes sense,” she said. “There’s so much care available we’ve not made a dent in the extent of the need.”

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LINK: Colorado Crisis Services

Jeff Todd