Loss due to the pandemic goes beyond COVID-19 victims

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
(Left to right) Kelly McGuire, one of the installers of a COVID-19 memorial at FGCU, sits with WINK News Reporter Sydney at the university campus to speak about the loss she has experienced during the pandemic. Credit: WINK News.

Mental health professionals are overwhelmed with the number of people in need of help. We spoke to a young woman who experienced this first hand, fivefold.

A memorial installed at FGCU to honor victims of the coronavirus in Southwest Florida and in the state does not begin to measure the impact of sudden loss during the pandemic.

The sad truth is mental health experts say we’re going to keep on losing even after the pandemic has technically come to end.

Kelly Maguire has put a lot of love into the memorial at FGCU.

“I helped install these ceramic flowers,” Maguire said. “I personally installed 1,000 of them.”

Although the flowers don’t represent loved ones Maguire has lost specifically to the coronavirus, she has experienced great loss during the pandemic.

“I’m fortunate to not lost them to the virus,” Maguire said. “I lost them to the pandemic as a whole. The isolation, loss of social connection, on top of living in abusive environments. I’ve lost friends to suicide, overdose, domestic violence murder, so it’s been an intense year for sure.”

It’s intense for Maguire and for the families of the five friends she has lost since the pandemic began. It’s also been intense for the countless other Americans struggling.

There are so many in fact it didn’t surprise Professor Alise Bartley to learn of Maguire’s massive loss. Bartley is the director of FGCU’s Community Counseling Center and a clinical assistant professor at the university.

“Unfortunately, these trends of people dying related to COVID secondary deaths we’re seeing every day,” Bartley said. “People’s mental health has been greatly impacted.”

According to the CDC, since the start of the pandemic, overdoses are up. Domestic violence is up. Depression is up.

Bartley told us they are overwhelmed with folks in need of help at the counseling center, and they cannot take on any new patients.

Maguire told us she plans on working in mental health services after graduation.

“I lost four of my friends in the span of month, and that was very difficult for me because, as I was grieving one friend, I really ended up trying to grieve four friends at once,” Maguire said. “And that’s just something nobody should have to go through on their own.”

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