Student Research Informs DOH Behavioral Health Strike Team Monthly Forecast

Written by Karen L. Bystrom
December 18, 2020

Dr. Kira MausethUpdate:

Students Joanna Corpuz, Psychology ’22 and Sydney Lindell, Psychology ’21, were the prime contributors to a new resource released by the Department of Health's Behavioral Health Strike team.

Behavioral health impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a surge in behavioral health symptoms across Washington, which is a trend is likely to continue. The COVID-19 Tip Sheet for Long-Term Care Settings: Combating Loneliness through the Holidays was developed for families, caregivers, and facility staff to help older adults and those with developmental disabilities in long-term care settings combat loneliness through the holidays. It provides:

  • The significance of staying connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Risk factors for loneliness.
  • General and holiday-specific tips and ideas for combating loneliness and isolation.

Additionally, the Ingredients of Resilience and How to deal with grief or loss infographics are also available resources to support emotional well-being. Visit the state’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response webpage for mental and emotional well-being and the Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Resources webpage for additional resources and recommendations on behavioral health impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Originally publication date: December 2, 2020

Dr. Kira Mauseth, Senior Instructor in Psychology and a clinical psychologist who sees patients at Snohomish Psychology Associates, serves as co-lead for the Behavioral Health Strike Team for the Washington State Department of Health. The strike team is a group of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists who are professionals in disaster relief and behavioral health.

In March, Dr. Mauseth created a document, updated throughout the pandemic, to reflect projections about what is likely to happen in the disaster response and recovery cycle for behavioral health in order to inform planning and resource strategies. This past month, a new team assisted her with the forecast.

“A group of SU undergraduate students provided research assistance for the November forecast,” she said. “Their research helped give me the necessary background information on the disaster cascade concept as well as some of the current trends in burnout and compassion fatigue.”

The student team includes Breanne Coulthard, Chemistry and Honors; Joanna Corpuz, Psychology ’22; Isabel Gilbertson, Psychology, Public Affairs, and Honors  ’22; Sydney Lindell, Psychology ’21; Kes Sorensen, Psychology ’21; and An Than, Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Honors ’23.

Some of the students shared their thoughts about the experience.

"In my experience with the Behavioral Health Group for the DOH, I have found the work to be incredibly fulfilling and essential,” said Joanna Corpuz. “As I have gone through databases looking for relevant research on COVID-19, I have gained a better understanding of the work researchers and medical professionals have been doing both on the frontlines and behind-the-scenes."

“The research and work the group is doing is important to understanding human psychology and health behaviors related to COVID-19 to help decrease the spread of the virus and positive mental and physical health outcomes, “said Isabel Gilbertson. “I am interested in the connection between psychology, public health, and policy and I feel lucky to be doing work that I am passionate about and working with others who are enthusiastic during a time where opportunities can be scarce.”

"I'm excited and thankful for how we are able to contribute to learning about the behavioral health effects of COVID-19 and how to aid people in coping with the new stressors that they’re facing,” said Kes Sorenson. “When I research COVID-19, I see data and information that relate to my own experiences, and that also reminds me of the fact that our current situation reaches and affects everyone. The purposefulness I feel doing this work is the greatest driving factor for me.”

An Than shared, “My experience working in the research support group has been a reflective one of which I reflect upon my privileges upon learning the trauma cascade effect the COVID-19 pandemic has produced upon vulnerable communities. I am thankful for the opportunity, and I am hopeful to be of assistance to my community.

The student researchers continue to work with Dr. Mauseth. “The project will extend into winter quarter and quite likely into spring as well, at least as long as the response is active, which is likely to be awhile,” said Dr. Mauseth.

 “Contributing to the greater good is at the heart of Seattle University’s mission and being part of that right now is particularly meaningful,” said Dr. Kathleen Cook, Chair of the Psychology Department. “I’m thrilled that Dr. Mauseth and her team created this opportunity for our students. The Psychology Department is pleased to support this work and these collaborations in any way we can.”

The Behavioral Strike Team’s November forecast is available here.

Learn more about Dr. Mauseth’s work and watch her presentation on the behavioral health impacts of COVID-19