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U Of U Health Announces Free Support Groups To Help With COVID-19 Grief, Anxiety & Depression

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Many families are dealing with the loss of loved ones to COVID-19 during an unprecedented time in U.S. history, and many who survive are leaving the hospital with health complications or emotional struggles.

Experts at the University of Utah are providing much-needed assistance through support groups, which they hope can help those hit hardest by the pandemic.

If the world still feels upside down, you’re not alone.

“People really are apprehensive about burdening their family. If they’re not able to go back to work yet, they must work if they’re essential workers, some of that tension, it’s really rather frightening,” said Kathie Supiano, director of Caring Connections at University of Utah College of Nursing.

University of Utah Health is offering free online support groups, including one for people who have had the virus.

“Issues with isolation, when they’re at home, having to be by themselves, then when they are ready to get up and go, they’re so tired,” said Heather Smith with Palliative Care at University of Utah Health.

“You kind of become the virus, because you all the sudden have had this virus that is this big worldwide thing, and you are kind of a representation of that virus. And that can be scary,” said Lorie Nielson, a chaplain at University of Utah Health.

Another group helps those who lost someone to COVID-19. Counselors said grief is complicated right now. Many people are having to say goodbye to loved ones through a video screen because they can’t be at the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“There’s an undergirding of guilt about ‘I didn’t do for my mother what I promised,'” Supiano said. “We are far away from mom or dad, who pass away from this situation, and because of the limitations in the country, not enough flights, and international requirements and so on, that makes it tougher,” said Mario Vazquez, a counselor at Multicultural Counseling Center.

Nielson said groups help when things feel overwhelming.

“Having a group of people that can talk about this together, talk about what is feeling overwhelming, what is helping them find their north star in the middle of this craziness,” Nileson said.

The groups are small, limited to about eight people. They said they have the capacity to make as many groups as are needed. Experts said they have the power to validate feelings and help people heal.

The COVID Grief Group and the COVID Recovery Support group meet Tuesday nights. Call Caring Connections at the University of Utah, 801-585-9522 to sign up.

The Multicultural Group meets Thursdays. Text the Multicultural Counseling Center at 801-585-9522 for more information.

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