It’s no secret that mental health issues have increased during the pandemic. My own client numbers have risen exponentially (so much so that I am on the lookout for superstar mental health professionals to join the Happy Minds team), and yet many of the underlying issues and anxieties that I am encountering remain the same.
So, what is life like for a perinatal psychologist working through a global pandemic? Well… let’s just say it’s been a juggling act!
My bio (in less than 125 words!)
My name is Sarah-Jayne Duryea. I was born and grew up in the UK and moved to Australia in 2007. I have worked as a psychologist for nearly 20 years now, with the past three years dedicated to operating my private practice, Happy Minds Psychology, where we specialise in working in reproductive and perinatal psychology. In conjunction with my wonderful partner, Kirt, I am also the proud mum of two irascible toddlers. Creating our little family was a challenging (and incredible) journey – a privileged life experience that underpins my firm belief that families are what we make them – and they can come in many shapes and forms.
Life and work during lockdowns
When it comes to being a health professional during a global pandemic, two things are paramount: a sense of humour and access to telehealth! I just read a statistic that noted that between March 2020 and January 2022, 91.36 million telehealth services were delivered to 16.4 million patients across Australia. That, of course, includes all types of consultations, from GPs to surgeons to psychologists, but those numbers mean that over the past two years more than 60% of the population has been online with a health professional. And surely a large proportion of those consultations have been a little like mine – challenging, rewarding and sometimes interrupted by the pitter-patter of tiny feet!
The Happy Minds client journey
Obviously, there is no ‘typical’ person who comes to see us at Happy Minds – each client has a unique story and a unique background that informs that story – but, beyond the anxieties engendered by Covid-19, many of our clients are parents or potential parents, dealing with concerns around parenting, around infertility, or around IVF or surrogacy – clients who have found that life can be challenging at times or who are encountering challenging life experiences.
And how do we work with these individuals? Well, we focus on Positive Psychology – a discipline (backed by rigorous scientific theory and research) that focuses on behaviours and character strengths that allow individuals to build resilience and to move beyond ‘repair’ towards personal growth and deep contentment. At Happy Minds we like to hold space for our clients – walking alongside them through their treatment with support, compassion and responsiveness.
Things that I am looking forward to in 2022
This year has already been full of new experiences (life with toddlers will do that to you!), but there are still numerous things that I am looking forward to – from more cups of tea on the couch, to more novels ticked off my ever-long reading list, to more walks on the beach (especially in winter!). One thing I am definitely looking forward to, though, is meeting more of my clients face-to-face – particularly now that our Ocean Grove offices have been lovingly renovated to create a warm, welcoming and calming space (see the pic above!). Oh, and I’m looking forward to expanding our Happy Minds team – let me know if you know of anybody in Geelong or the Bellarine and looking for a new challenge!