To no-one’s surprise, the current Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown are having a significant psychological impact on people all over the world. However, the precise nature of this impact, and how to mitigate against stress related to the pandemic, calls for research. Overall, 2020 has already proven to be an extremely challenging year for mental health globally, and there is every indication to suggest that this will continue to be the case.
An Australia-based team led by Dr Stan Steindel from the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, and involving researchers in eighteen different countries around the world, is exploring this very topic. He points out that the Covid-19 pandemic gives rise to feelings of fear and anxiety, while the lockdown can lead to a terrible sense of loneliness, as people have to stay away from family and friends—while at the same time, many of us are concerned about losing our jobs or the wider effects of a major economic downturn. Our local social, political, and economic environment also has an impact on our feelings, as different governments and societies take different approaches to the current threat.
Dr Steindl’s study is questionnaire-driven, and involves filling in a fairly detailed survey that takes thirty minutes to complete, which will be repeated after three, and then six, months. It explores the issues of well-being and stress, and people’s changing experiences as they live through the pandemic. In particular, it explores how people manage to maintain a sense of being connected to one another, and how they can care for others, and feel cared for themselves. They ask whether compassion, for oneself and for others, can help to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic.
Over time, as the lockdown is lifted, forms of communication, care, and togetherness will shift and change. How can we foster compassion, and build resilience, in this constantly shifting psycho-social environment? With the data collected from their broad-ranging survey, Dr Steindl and his team will be able to develop models and strategies that will help individuals, communities, and social and governmental authorities to foster resilience in the face of a pandemic.
If you would like to take part in Dr Steindl’s research, visit the study’s website and check it out: https://www.fpce.uc.pt/covid19study/
If you live in one of the countries in the study, your input could help these researchers to make things easier for those suffering at this difficult time! We are all facing challenges at the moment, to varying extents, and in varying ways. One way or another, we are all in this together—and we can work together to try to make it less difficult than it has to be!
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