Thursday, January 21, 2021: 5:00 PM-6:00 PM
Cluster: Work and Work-Life Policies and Programs
Ashleigh Herrera, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, Todd Franke, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles and Catherine Mogil, Psy.D., University of California, Los Angeles
The rapid proliferation and devastating consequences of COVID-19 throughout our communities create an imperative for immediate mobilization of volunteer-based services in an attempt to defray the psychosocial cost of this pandemic with its catastrophic death toll akin to armed conflicts. COVID-19 is causing unprecedented social disruption and isolation, ushering in another era of financial calamity and instability. Moreover, morbidity and mortality data shine a spotlight on historically rooted issues of inequity and disproportionality with communities of color shouldering the burden of infection and death. Frontline and healthcare workers simultaneously navigate the perils of their workplaces as they continue to perform essential, and oftentimes lifesaving, work, while living in a context of chronic trauma exposure, hypervigilant to an unseen threat and simultaneously witnessing the erosion of long-ensconced social institutions along with the illness and demise of co-workers, friends, and family members. While social workers and helping professionals have historically provided disaster relief in both professional and volunteer capacities in response to devastation and trauma such as that caused by 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and recently the Northern California Wildfires, COVID-19 presents new challenges and opportunities for disaster relief responses due to public health measures such as social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Unlike previous national and international tragedies and disasters, typically confined to specific geographical areas and for a relatively short duration, the ravages of COVID-19 have swept the globe with a reported 270,000 deaths and almost 4 million cases of infection as of May 2020 with projections for a surge in cases as municipalities, states, and nations ease public-safety measures in response the crippling economic cost of stay-at-home mandates. In response to the absence of traditional face-to-face modalities and increased need for low threshold informational and emotional support as a consequence of COVID-19, a critical examination of peer-run telehealth and helpline strategies and their implementation and staffing is warranted to provide accessible, timely, and compassionate support as our global society continues to weather the onslaught of COVID-19. This roundtable session will begin a dialogue about volunteer-based strategies to promote well-being, resilience, recovery, and connection in the context of a global pandemic. One presenter will address the psychosocial stressors related to COVID-19 and consequences of chronic trauma exposure, moral distress, and moral injury, especially to healthcare and frontline workers. Another presenter will discuss limitations to the provision and access of services due to public safety measures implemented to protect the public. The third presenter will review previous social work disaster relief strategies and interventions and telehealth and helpline applications in light of barriers posed by COVID-19 as well as the approaches to rapidly develop, mobilize, recruit, and launch volunteer-based services amid a pandemic. Our objectives are to share our intervention to address the needs of frontline and healthcare workers and foster dialogue about scholarship and practice implications in response to the devastating impact of COVID-19, promote telehealth solutions to decrease social isolation and distress, and discuss strategies for volunteer recruitment, training, and retention while social distancing and public safety measures are in effect.
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