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A Tale of Two Hygienists Podcast

Sep 15, 2021

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It’s National Suicide Prevention month and Michelle has invited Kimberly Johnson, Ph.D., LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor with 25 years in practice, to discuss The Emotional PPE Project which was created to assist frontline healthcare workers who were taking on an emotional toll due to the COVID-19 crisis.


In this episode, Kimberly starts the conversation by discussing her career as a mental health clinician and how volunteering for the Emotional PPE Project was a decision that stemmed from a personal decision to be supportive. Kimberly and Michelle discuss the emotional stress faced by frontline healthcare workers and how to tell when they are struggling, ways to help these workers when they feel overwhelmed, and how important it is to detox from social media and news outlets and also practice self-care. They round off with a discussion on the resources that can help those who are struggling during these times.





Interview starts: 5:13


-   Kimberly discusses her career as a mental health clinician

-   Volunteering in the Emotional PPE Project

-   The start of the Emotional PPE Project in dire times

-   Comparing the emotional stress of the pandemic to that of 9/11

-   What defines a first responder?

-   Emotional struggles during different waves of the pandemic

-   How can dental hygienists guide healthcare frontline workers concerning their oral health?

-   Tell-tale signs for when healthcare frontline workers are struggling

-   3 ways to help those who are overwhelmed

-   Embracing the divide

-   Why healthcare workers should practice self-care

-   When does venting on social media become toxic?

-   Resources that can help those struggling





“I wanted a way to be involved, I wanted a way to give back, to be supportive.”


“The environment’s changed. The stories have changed.”


“The impact of moral injury, of not being able to help, especially when you're a caregiver, you're a helper, it's about helping, and when you don't have the tools to make somebody better or to bring somebody back to a better place, it's problematic.”


“Sometimes people just need to be heard and validated and acknowledged”


“Initially, when we're confronted with a lot of these kinds of stressors, some of our initial coping strategies that help us survive over the long term do not help us to thrive. They start to actually interfere with our ability to maintain our resiliency and keep going.”


“Instead of saying ‘How was your day?’, say, ‘Tell me one good thing that happened today.’”


“The reality is that life is a very gray area.”


“We can rebuild ourselves, rebuild our resiliency, find a little patience and our own sense of hope and our own sense of compassion, and that gets built back at times when we're practicing self-care, and not kind of just living constantly in that high stress.”


“When I think about Emotional PPE or I think about the oxygen mask analogy, we have to put on our own oxygen mask first before we can help others.”


“Hit that doorknob, take those breaths, ground yourself before you keep going, but it also means getting some water, taking those moments to be able to step outside and take some breaths of real air”


“We have, through social media, really done ourselves a disservice on one hand in that we really have just permitted it to become this kind of angry place at times.”


“That which gives light must endure a burning”


“There's a lot of people hurting out there. There's a lot of people that are dealing with a lot of emotional pain through this time.”





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