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Middle Tennessee psychiatrist sees boost in business following height of COVID


The height of the COVID-19 pandemic left many people in need of one thing: face-to-face interaction.
Updated: Feb. 25, 2022 at 6:48 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The height of the COVID-19 pandemic left many people in need of one thing: face-to-face interaction. One of Middle Tennessee’s top psychiatrists said communication could change your brain.

Dr. Michelle Cochran said the lack of it during COVID is a key reason why she’s seen a stunning increase in the number of people coming to her for help.

“I felt like I could work 24/7,” Cochran said. “Because there’s that much need. If you’ve got somebody whose had a history of substance abuse or has a history of depression, suicidality, or any mental illness before, it’s been worse. It’s why we’re busy.”

Her stylist Holly Johnson has been equally in demand.

“You got busy very fast, very quickly,” Cochran said.

“And we did too,” Johnson replied.

“I think all self-care did,” Cochran added.

During a recent hair appointment at Style House Salon in Green Hills, Johnson told Cochran about a law that went into effect Jan. 1, mandating domestic violence awareness training for hairstylists, barbers, and nail techs to renew their licenses.

“I think it’s genius,” Cochran said. “You could prevent someone’s death just by giving the right contact info, her just bringing it up and saying ‘Hey, I’m worried.’ Because she has a relationship.”

The law is intended to make the most of beauty professionals’ close contact with clients to help keep them safe.

“It’s very intimate when you’re shampooing someone’s hair,” Johnson said. “One of the signs too is to check their scalp, check their head.”

Cochran said the number of patients seeking help at her private practice and Nashville clinic doubled two years ago.

Since the pandemic, it’s doubled again, spurring her to open a second clinic in Brentwood, where she will add two more psychiatrists this summer.

“(The brain) is the master control center for everything else,” Cochran continued. “If you don’t care about this with exercise, diet, social engagement, you’re not going to function well. By creating a connection with other people repeatedly, psychotherapy, or engagement with another human being, it could pull somebody out of a mild episode. This is why this is so important to get everybody in the community involved in knowing where the resources are so that people can get plugged in.”

If you are in danger, need to speak with an advocate, or have a specific situation you would like to talk through, call the YWCA’s 24-hour Crisis & Support Helpline at 1-800-334-4628 or TEXT 615-983-5170.

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