Second-semester undergraduate research assistant, Isabelle Teasel, recently gave a presentation on the article titled, How Right Now? Supporting Mental Health and Resilience Amid COVID-19. The purpose of the study was to understand the experiences of individuals disproportionately impacted by the global pandemic in order to create a culturally-informed mental health communication model aimed at education on resilience resources. The major research questions asked were (1) how do HRN audiences define and discuss resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic?, (2) what kinds of mental health resources and supports do HRN audiences need to be resilient amid the COVID-19 pandemic?, and (3) what factors inhibit resilience or predict challenges to resilience among HRN audiences?
The researchers used qualitative and quantitative data collection methods like an environmental scan of articles on the internet about the pandemic, social listening via messages given on social media about emotional health and COVID-19, and a national survey. Results from the various types of data collected revealed the mechanisms of gaining resilience as community cohesion, social networks, common goals, faith, relying on past experiences, and looking toward the future. The researchers were also able to break down how specific populations define resiliency. For example, adults over 65 and their caregivers see resilience as actively coping with induced challenges; while adults experiencing violence defined the term as actively seeking emotional support and safety resources. Results also provided an understanding of what each group already does to cope with adversity and the specific support they need. This information is extremely helpful for developing effective messages on mental health resources for the different people in our population.
Isabelle’s Honor’s College Thesis is also on the topic of COVID-19 called, The Paradoxical Nature of Resilience, Optimism, and Anxiety in Relation to COVID-19. The project focuses on paradoxical relationship between resilience, optimism, health anxiety, and trait anxiety in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and how these anxieties may be influencing an individual’s behavior longitudinally during the pandemic. Isabelle hopes that the study will contribute to psychology and healthcare workers’ understanding of the pandemic’s impact, therefore bettering their ability to treat individuals experiencing decreased mental health at this time. This is a very timely project and we anticipate the results to be helpful for increasing awareness and resources for those who are struggling. Great work, Isabelle!