Post-COVID mental health forum May 19

Jack Shaw has heard rising anxiety and sinking depression in people’s voices throughout the COVID pandemic. So the grief specialist organized an online forum through Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh to help people understand and respond to what is happening to them and to those they love.

The free Zoom forum, “Mental Health Awareness & Support Through Post-Pandemic Stress,” is scheduled for Wednesday May 19, 8-10 a.m. EST. Registration for live participation is at A recording will be available the next day on the sponsors’ websites.

In addition to stress directly related to COVID, people have suffered emotionally from other recent events, ranging from political turmoil to major changes in their parishes, said Shaw, who is coordinator of evangelization and outreach at Saint Jude Parish in Pittsburgh’s East End.

As part of that ministry he runs a seven-week grief recovery program, while also serving as program coordinator for Lifeline of Listening Friends, a support group for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

Those programs were unable to work effectively during COVID because hurting people crave the physical presence of those who understand them, he said.

“Isolation is very hard on people,” he said. “When I was a kid we sat around the dinner table and talked about the events of the day. Part of our spiritual journey is to be able to process what is happening in our lives. With all of this isolation, we’re seeing more anxiety and depression, and more alcohol abuse.”

People with questions about stress, grief and isolation can find information at the forum on May 19.

Sessions include:

  • “Mental health issues facing adults after COVID-19, ” Melissa Barr, a therapist and regional director at Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh
  • “Mental health issues facing children after COVID-19,” Susan Caban, director of education for the National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • “Suicide-related issues facing adults and children,” Jesse Putkoski, regional director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • “Information on grief and support groups,” Jack Shaw, program coordinator for the Lifeline of Listening Friends.

The forum is sponsored by Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Lifeline of Listening Friends, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health First Aid USA.