There have been some troubling trends in the news lately. Nationally from January to September 2020, there was a 62% increase on the number of depression screens over 2019 data. While rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are increasing for people of all races and ethnicities, there are notable differences in those changes over time. Black or African American screeners have had the highest average percent change over time for anxiety and depression. Over 85% of MCC clients are African American and we can see these national statistics bear out in DC.

At MCC we have seen a disturbing trend in client deaths this year. None are directly attributed to Covid19 – though one client, who was not tested for the virus, passed of “respiratory failure”, though he had no known history of respiratory problems. While we cannot pinpoint the increase in deaths to one cause or causes we know it mirrors nationwide statistics. There is a 30% increase in national death rates not attributed to Covid19. In DC, many of our clients have competing health issues and, fearful of the virus, have been less apt to seek medical care for those issues. For others the isolation caused by the pandemic exacerbates their condition. Last week we saw an increase in Major Unusual Incidents (MUI’s) at MCC. This is when a client needs immediate care for a crisis situation. Normally we would have one or two MUI’s per week. We can speculate on reasons, however, we do know one thing for certain – our services are more necessary now than they ever were.

Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy where art is used as a communication tool. One way to understand this is to consider that we all experience internal imagery as thoughts, memories, the imagination, or sensations and impressions. The only way another person can peek inside someone’s head to see this internal imagery is if it is made into art. Art therapists assist their clients with understanding, interpreting, and exploring the meaning of the imagery communicated through the art created within the context of art therapy. The process of creating art is a multisensory experience. It involves the use of various parts of the brain, such as the visual and tactile systems, as well as brain areas involved with movement and problem-solving. Activating these various parts of the brain can reveal preverbal sensory information, which can come forth as stored unconscious information. Thus, art therapy can potentially bypass a client’s defense mechanisms in a way that is non-threatening broadening self-insight and understanding.

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