PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A previously unknown coronavirus, with a constellation of unknowns, created a global medical emergency in March 2020.

“The pandemic has affected each and every one of us. It’s made us stop and reflect … as a people and as a nation,” said Dr. Gail Gazelle, who is a physician’s coach at Harvard University.

FILE – Emergency room nurse Brian Stephen leans against a stoop as he takes a break from his work at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, Sunday, April 5, 2020, in New York. The worldwide surge in coronavirus cases driven by the new omicron variant is the latest blow to already strained hospitals, nursing homes, police departments and supermarkets struggling to maintain a full contingent of nurses, police officers and other essential workers as the pandemic enters its third year. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

As we approach year three of the pandemic, Gazelle is raising awareness about the mental health of the thousands who are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Over the months, lives were lost as doctors and other professionals battled the unknowns of a novel virus; colleagues were lost to disease and depression, and medical professionals lost quality time with loved ones due to long hours in the nation’s hospitals.

“The pandemic has pushed that button its left people thinking about their own mental health and the needs of their family,” said Gazelle.

On the campus of Norfolk State University, nurses of the future are already thinking about how pandemic-related workplace demands will affect their mental health.

( WAVY photo: Regina Mobley)

“I think there needs to be a healthy balance between work life and our mental life our mental health life,” said Maya Adkins, who graduates from the nursing program in May.

Regina Mobley: “What can the general public do to assist the medical profession which has been under a tremendous amount of stress?”

(WAVY photo: Regina Mobley)

Dr. Gail Gazelle: “This is a critically important question. At the end of the day, health care is a human endeavor. It’s about all of us and our own vulnerability that we all share. I think the more the public can show up with respect and appreciation and a sense of really seeing the good in their health care provider that can help the provider do the same thing… We can build upon that and we can build back some of the civility in health care that we really have been challenged about and really come back to the shared humanity that we are all a part of.”