Belabored: Mental Health Workers’ Double Pandemic, with Kellie Benson

Belabored: Mental Health Workers’ Double Pandemic, with Kellie Benson

A mental healthcare provider discusses the pandemic’s effects on her work.

Nurses at the Allina Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis strike in October, 2021. (Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

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This week begins our new series on workers and the pandemic. While politicians and many people would like to pretend that COVID-19 is over, for so many workers the damage done by the virus and the inadequate response continues to compound. For the rest of the year, we’ll be talking in depth with people who work in industries that have borne the brunt of the risk, the pain, and the grief of the pandemic in America. And we’ll be wrapping the series up with a virtual live event!
This week, we spoke with Kellie Benson, senior mental health coordinator at Allina Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis and a member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa. Healthcare workers are, of course, the first people we think of when we think of the impact of COVID-19, but the mental health pandemic that has come alongside the virus is less often discussed, and for mental healthcare workers, the two issues are deeply intertwined. Benson tells us about how her work has changed, and the ongoing struggle of mental health workers for fair pay, safe staffing, and support on the job.
In the news, we look at a general strike in Palestine and the victory of Oklahoma City Apple Store workers, a nationwide strike vote for British university workers and a union drive at Netflix.

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Netflix Music Supervisors File for Unionization Election at Labor Board, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees

Jazz Tangcay, Netflix Music Supervisors Seek Unionization Vote, Variety

Noam Scheiber, Apple Store in Oklahoma City Becomes Second to Unionize, New York Times

University staff vote for UK-wide strike action in historic ballot, University and College Union

Sally Weale, UK university staff vote for strike action over pay, conditions and pensions, The Guardian

Mariam Barghouti and Yumna Patel, What is happening in the West Bank right now: a full breakdown, Mondoweiss

Palestinians strike in West Bank, Jerusalem over Israel killings, Al Jazeera

Sarah and Michelle: Belabored: General Strike in Palestine, Dissent


SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa

Kiya Edwards, Mental health workers announce one-day walkout strike, KARE 11

Max Nesterak, Mental health workers launch 3-day strike at Allina hospitals in Twin CitiesMinnesota Reformer

Thanks to the Ford Foundation of Social Justice for sponsoring this series.