The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) is collecting a series of first hand stories of LGBTQ people in Tennessee who work in the health field during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This story is from Heather Walls. If you are an LGBTQ person working in the health field and want to tell your story of working during the pandemic send it to Jeremiah at volunteer@tnep.org .

By Heather Walls

My name is Heather Walls, and I am the nursing administrative coordinator at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital. My experience with COVID has been a bit different than other healthcare workers on the frontline. I am not in an ICU with multiple patients on vents, nor am I in an emergency room that is experiencing a huge influx of COVID positive patients. I am on the other side of things. I deal with the mental and emotional burdens that this illness has caused/is causing. This recent pandemic and resulting economic downturn have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. We are in a period of uncertainty. The world is not the same as it was months ago. Rules and procedures change daily. Many have lost loved ones, homes, jobs and just their overall sense of security. It is important, now more than ever, that we pay attention to mental health in these trying times. Check on your loved ones. Be there for one another. And if you need help, reach out. We will get through this, as we have everything else. Stay safe everyone!

*We are very grateful to Heather for sharing her story, especially during Mental Health Awareness Month. If you are feeling isolated or struggling and need someone to speak with, you can call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471). This is a free service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

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