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Taking a Toll: Conversations About Mental Health



Nearly a year into New Hampshire’s COVID-19 emergency, stress is a constant presence in the lives of our residents, on our social systems, and in our communities. NHPR’s weekday talk show The Exchange will air a three-part series in February and March to convene important conversations about mental health, featuring experts, conversations with community members, and resources to help.

Stress and mental health struggles are faced at the personal level: family finances or job loss or anxiety; work/life balance issues stemming from remote or hybrid work; balancing child care and schooling or taking care of older family members or an extended circle of family and friends; plus the everyday vigilance to try to stay healthy through the pandemic. Social isolation and the feelings that grief, loss or anxiety bring to our mental and physical health are just part of the equation; wider world issues of political uncertainty, change, and our ongoing national conversation about social and racial justice are also impacting people’s feelings and states of mind. Through three hour-long conversations, The Exchange will take a deeper look at some of these issues and share listener stories.

The broadcast schedule:

Wednesday, February 17 – The initial episode offers a broad overview of the scope of mental health struggle taking place right now, including financial stress, anxiety, depression, the tricky balance between family and work obligations, and the pervasive feelings of uncertainty and grief many are facing. Guests will include:

  • Paul Cody, psychologist, the Behavioral Health Program at Equality Health Center in Concord
  • Sonya Shropshire-Friel, a psychologist from Dover
  • Ashley Silva, LICSW, from Manchester; clinical therapist at Care Counseling Services

Wednesday, February 24 – The second program in the series will look at how the pandemic is impacting children and teenagers, exploring stressors like remote learning, the absence of organized sports/activities and play or social time with friends, challenges faced by children in communities of color, and how lack of access to therapy or mental health services can bring additional stress. Guests will include:

  • Dr. Nicole Christian-Brathwaite, psychiatrist, CEO and founder of Well Minds Consulting Company in Boston
  • Rhitu Chatterjee, health correspondent for NPR, with a focus on mental health

Wednesday, March 3 – The final program in the series explores the mental health concerns of older residents in our state. The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a disproportionate toll on our seniors both in New Hampshire and nationally. Isolation and loneliness are of concern, whether due to necessary shielding away from other family members or living in a residential care facility. The lack of physical and social contact with family members, friends, grandchildren or neighbors can impact mental health. Seniors may also face technological challenges, whether via access to or ease of use with technologies that can help maintain connection. Guests will include:

  • Joe Capabianco - resident of RiverWoods in Durham. 
  • Anne Marie Olsen-Hayward - a licensed clinical social worker and the director of the state's Referral Education Assistance and Prevention program (REAP). 
  • Dr. Jodi Marshall - Medical Director for the St. Joseph Hospital Senior Behavioral Health Unit. 
  • Brendan Williams - President and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association. 

“This three-part series extends some important and personal conversations we’ve had on The Exchange about mental health,” said Michael Brindley, executive producer of The Exchange.” Last summer, an Exchange Live From Home event looked at the impact of stress on mental health just a few months into the pandemic. As the impact of the pandemic worsens, we think this is an important dialogue to revisit and expand, and we welcome stories and questions from our listeners with their perspectives.”

Listeners of the program are encouraged to join the dialogue, share their experiences and stories, and submit questions at the homepage nhpr.org/exchange, where show summaries and recaps will be posted. In addition, questions can be submitted online or through social media (Twitter: @NHPRExchange or Facebook: @nhprexchange).  Members of the public can also e-mail their stories, questions and comments to: exchange@nhpr.org.



Listen Live: 9 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday on NHPR, with a repeat broadcast from 9 to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

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Tricia directs external communications, marketing and engagement efforts for New Hampshire Public Radio, working to raise further awareness of the high-quality journalism at NHPR and the organization’s deep community outreach.

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