Have you been feeling more stressed lately? Good news is that you aren’t alone! It is not often that the whole world goes through a shared experience. COVID has created a new set of challenges to overcome, especially when it comes to mental health. In response, new developments and advancements have been made to accommodate our community as human beings.
One of the main ways the pandemic has altered our lives and affected our mental health is through quarantining. Ariel University in Israel and University of Warwick in England conducted a study focused on mental health before and after a lockdown. Their results showed that three out of the four groups studied experienced more vulnerability. We have become more aware of one another because the pandemic has forced us to become more vulnerable and have more difficult conversations. Luckily these conversations in some cases have led to great solutions.
In Israel, new apps have started emerging to help with mental health issues. Wisdo and GGTUDE are just a couple of these innovative apps. Wisdo is a platform where people can support one another and share their experiences, and GGTUDE works to provide daily exercises to improve stress levels. There are versions of these apps popping up all over the world, which shows example of how we have seemed to find a way to connect online.
Through many different platforms and methods, we have found ways to come together as a community, even if that community has been found virtually. One study out of Israel found that kids who continued to keep in touch with and met with their sports teams virtually had higher levels of self-esteem, and they were more resilient mentally and emotionally. Virtual spaces have become a necessary part of navigating through isolation because we have a need for socialization, and it is necessary to have human connection in order to stay healthy. Moving forward, it is important that we remember that being around others is part of being human. We can utilize the virtual spaces we have created to be social again so we can begin to repair what we have lost.
The most important thing, even though there have been heartache and challenges navigating COVID, is that we are still standing! Mental health has become a more central topic in the past few years, which shows that the main thing that has seemed to prevail and grow through the pandemic is our sense of empathy. We have become more aware of ourselves and others around us because social interaction has become scarcer. It may be surprising to learn that ideas and studies coming out of Israel are giving us some of the best context to navigate the pandemic. Now that more of these resources are becoming common, we can move forward and use our new information and experiences to improve. From apps to video calls with friends, continue to share and be vulnerable. Yes, the pandemic has thrown us for a loop, but we are resilient, and we can come out of this on the other side better than before. The pandemic has taught and changed us a lot, but now we can take what we have learned from our shared experience and move forward with empathy for those around us.
Want to learn more about Israel’s innovations for COVID and mental health? Check out our Instagram post and stories on Instagram @groundbreakingisrael.
Eliza Aretz is a student majoring in psychology at Valencia College in Florida. They are hoping to pursue a career in mental health counseling after college.