My Metromode story about how Michigan nonprofits staffers are handling pandemic stress

As many nonprofit workers can tell you, when your job is all about helping people in distress – regardless of whether it’s of the physical, mental, or financial variety – you sometimes forget to take care of yourself.

“It’s weird for us,” said Judy Gardner, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Washtenaw County. “As a support organization, we’re not used to thinking about our own mental health. We’re always more focused on the folks we serve.”

Yet the mental health toll on the nonprofit sector’s front line workers in Michigan has been significant.

“I call it the superhero complex,” said Sharonda Simmons, Ozone House’s director of education and outreach in Ann Arbor. “I appreciate all the love and support people have shown for front line workers, and the signs and the applause are nice. But on some level, this also puts them at a distance and takes away from the fact that these are still just human beings … who get exhausted like everyone else.”

Part of Simmons’ concern for her colleagues stems from the fact that they’re “used to doing this work in a more personal capacity,” Simmons said. “Doing it virtually is not the same, and that takes a big toll on morale. We’re used to getting in to work and interacting and engaging with people, and we can’t do that right now.” READ THE REST HERE


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