The Masked Mama :: Mental Health in a Pandemic


Behind the Mask

Superheroes. When you envision them, what do you visualize? You think of one in disguise, concealing their identity, I am sure. You might even imagine the infamous superhero cape blowing in the wind, while he/she stands atop a tall skyscraper with both hands posed on hips. Do you also envision a mask? Well of course you do! A superhero must not be seen out in public without a mask. This is what keeps him from revealing his identity and putting himself or his loved ones in danger. A superhero, geared up, is now ready to go out and take on the bad guy. Now, when superheroes are done conquering the bad guys in the streets, what do they do? They take off the costumes and trade them for normalcy; they retreat to a haven where everything is alright in the world. They go to find solace in places where things feel normal again.


During 2020, all citizens of the world discovered what it was like to reach superhero status. We covered our faces to protect the identities of ourselves and our loved ones. Then we went out and took on a common bad guy. Many of us escaped unscathed, some of us were wounded, and all of us were changed. Not long were the days of barren food shelves, scarce Lysol, and toilet paper. Just a year ago, the nation was in a frenzy in response to escalating Covid-19 cases. Despite my health education background, I walked through empty food aisles last year experiencing panic and insurmountable stress. You see, I am the mother to a child with life threatening food allergies and we already live in a world with limitations to food options. I initially grappled with thoughts of there not being enough safe foods as our staple items were suddenly in high demand, and I was greatly concerned about the impact that Covid-19 posed on agriculture. The memories are far less than nostalgic.   

Effects of a Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have become superheroes. We suit up. We wear our masks out to protect us from the dreadful virus following us home and invading our lives. Behind our masks we bear the mental distress that many of us have subdued in these times. We hide our panic, pain, and our worries of a grim future. In one way or another, we are all bravely enduring the effects of living in a pandemic. We have grappled with losing loved ones, suffering our own personal battles with COVID, and missing once in a lifetime opportunities or celebrations with those who are dear to us. Protecting and providing for those around us has become our primary focus, even as we neglect to manage our own needs. It’s time that we unveil ourselves and remove the masks.

Stress Management

It is important to note our own risks and the effects that the pandemic has posed on our mental states. Being intentional and finding ways to minimize anxieties as we move forward are crucial. There are several things that we can do to de-stress. Here are some suggestions:

  • Journal
  • Paint
  • Have a family game night
  • Enjoy a movie with popcorn
  • Create a new dish
  • Dance
  • Rest (guilt-free)

You can be as creative as you would like to de-stress.  There are resources available to assist as well. NAMI, an affiliate organization for mental health, offers free assistance to help you locate emotional support by your area code. Remember that superheroes cannot pour from empty cups. Allow yourself the opportunity for daily self-care. Maintaining good mental status for yourself should be a priority.  

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Tanisha Foster, a savvy and ambitious STEM & health educator and community organizer is the founder of Chop Friendly. She started Chop Friendly in 2018 after teaching her family, friends, and those caring for her toddler son how to offer him safe allergy-free foods. Tanisha is now promoting food allergy awareness and inclusion by educating and providing tools to families, schools, day cares, restaurants, and the community. As a mom-preneur and health expert constituent and grassroots advocate, Tanisha works alongside FARE to support state and national legislature of food allergies and with recent laws such as the FASTER Act.