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Dr. Avanti Bergquist Recognized as Pandemic Hero for Mental Health by WSMA

We want to congratulate Avanti Bergquist, MD, MS, FAPA, DFAACAP, for her recent recognition by the Washington State Medical Association as one of Washington state's "pandemic heroes who exemplify the best in healthcare" in the mental health category. Dr. Bergquist is a Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist at ERC Bellevue.

We connected with Dr. Bergquist to learn about what this recognition means to her and the type of work she's doing in the Washington community.

Congratulations on your recognition! What did this honor mean to you?

It is gratifying to be recognized for work that I feel is so important. There is so much stigma about mental health issues that it is extra important to advocate for improvements to care and prevention. There are also many living with mental illness that cannot advocate for themselves, such as children and adolescents, who need strong advocacy champions.

You’re heavily involved in your local community’s effort to help children struggling with their mental health. Why are you passionate about this?

There traditionally has not been many resources or concern for mental health difficulties. It is important to shine a light on this to improve inadequacies and celebrate strengths in the system. Plus, children and adolescents sometimes cannot advocate for themselves, so they need the rest of us to stand up for their needs.

Can you talk about the need for mental health resources, especially during Covid-19?

Rates of mental health difficulties were high before Covid and then proceeded to increase during the pandemic. It makes a lot of sense that we all would have mental health problems during the pandemic. Everything that we take for granted as part of our normal lives have been upended. Uncertainty alone causes anxiety, so put that on top of job losses and physical illness, and you get an increase in mental illness symptoms. We can therefore all benefit from mental health resources, now more than ever.

Many children are going back to school even amidst Covid. What are your tips for parents during this complicated time?

Along with being a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I am also an elected school board director for my local public school district. It was not an easy decision to close schools, and now we are having an exceptionally difficult time figuring out how to open schools safely. There is no perfect answer.

When deciding what should happen for children, try to follow the science and be understanding that it continues to evolve. Look at how your children are managing during virtual school. If they are blossoming, maybe it is reasonable to keep them in online school for the time being. If your child is really struggling, maybe they should go back to in person school when available. Consider how well your child can wear a mask for several hours and if they can maintain physical distancing from others for the most part.

What can help guide this conversation for parents?

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has put together some great resources for coping during the pandemic for both children and parents. Find tips for children's mental health during Covid-19, as well as support for parents here.

 

Find more resources for parents during Covid-19 on the Eating Recovery Center blog.

About Dr. Avanti Bergquist:

Avanti Bergquist, MD, MS, FAPA has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University, a Master of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Oregon School of Science and Engineering at OHSU, and received her MD from the University of Louisville. She completed both her psychiatry residency and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the University of Washington. Prior to coming to Eating Recovery Center she was on faculty at the University of Washington in the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department and an attending psychiatrist on the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Bergquist is a member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) where she serves on both the Advocacy Committee and the Inpatient, Residential, and Partial Hospitalization Committee. She is also a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). She has many local leadership responsibilities. She is the president as well as advocacy liaison of the Washington State Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (WSCCAP) as well as the WSCCAP alternate delegate to the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) Behavioral Health Work Group.

She is a member of the Washington State Speaker of the House of Representatives’ Mental Health Task Force. She is also a member of the Washington State Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Association, and Washington State Medical Association. As a community leader she serves on the boards of Renton Area Youth and Family Services (RAYS) and Friends of Renton Schools, and was recently appointed as a Director on the Renton School Board.

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