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People are feeling more positive with talk of vaccine's potential to ease pandemic, expert says

A certified trauma treatment specialist believes the positive talk about the COVID-19 vaccine is helping people see the light at the end of the tunnel.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Some people are seeing positive mental health impacts as the coronavirus vaccine provides a potential solution to the end of the pandemic.

Jennifer Wolff, a licensed clinical social worker and a certified trauma treatment specialist, is the owner of JJWolff Counseling Services. She says the most dominant mental health issue she's seen during the pandemic is the disconnect and sense of isolation and loneliness.

"We're, as human beings, we're social beings. We're made to connect," said Wolff. "It's been very difficult."

The certified trauma treatment specialist believes isolation and loneliness has brought anxiety and depression to people. She thinks it's also impacted people in their thought process with fear-based thinking rather than faith-based.

"People have definitely struggled with the sense of limbo and uncertainty and, 'Do I do this? Do I wear this? Do I not do this.' And as human beings, we can deal with what we know because we can ground, we can make a plan, we can deal," explained Wolff.

Wolff says with all the uncertainty and unpredictability of the pandemic, it's contributed to mental health challenges.

According to Wolff, teenagers and young adults have had a tough time with the social aspect of the pandemic.

"You also see in the elderly population that the toll on their health, their spiritual, physical, many have died. The amount of loss that has occurred and you always wonder is it due to virus and COVID or the sense of not being able to see my family or the immobility or is it a combination of all of it," said Wolff.

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With the addition of the vaccine to help battle the coronavirus pandemic, it's helped shift the mindset of folks.

"There seems to be a shifting of energy. Like you see more people are out and about, the weather is pretty," said Wolff. "There's a hopefulness, but what I'm also seeing is there is a trepidation of, 'Is it safe? Is it okay?' And even as we come out of this, there's been, everywhere you look, mixed messages still on what's okay and what's not okay."

Wolff says people are not in unity across the board when it comes to what is or is not okay to do at the moment.

"The vaccine, there's lots of feelings and emotions about the vaccine, but it's a message of there is an answer, a potential answer. That takes human beings out of, 'Okay, I can see a light,' said Wolf. "If we have a plan, if we have something in front of us, we can cope with it, we can deal with it."

The certified traumatic treatment specialist believes it's important to remember as we come out of the pandemic, there are families and people who have been permanently altered because of the pandemic. But there are also people who have lost loved ones without having the ability to be with them.

For those who are struggling because of the pandemic, Wolff suggests people take it moment by moment.

"Be careful to what you're exposing yourself to. Self-care is critical, making sure am I sleeping well, am I eating well, getting the Vitamin D," explained Wolff.

Wolf wants people to keep this in mind as we all continue to get through the pandemic.

"We've gotten through extremely tough situations before. We will get through extremely tough situations again. We will get through this," said Wolff. "We may never be the same, but we are getting through it and we will get through it."

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