"We are in it together" Promoting citizens' health and well-being through a multi-level model of resilience amidst the Covid-19 pandemic
The current outbreak of Covid-19 exposed large parts of the global population to uncertainty around possible severe illness but also evoked strict social and political measures to suppress the spread of the virus. Due to this uncertainty, the real danger of losing loved ones, your own health but also financial and social pressures, many citizens will be at high risk to foster mental health problems (Banerjee, 2020). Indeed, we know that many citizens develop negative psychological responses like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during and after an epidemic (e.g., Lee, Chung, and Chou, 2006; Banerjee, 2020). Such social issues as a result of Covid-19 are likely to have profound social implications across the globe.
Current models on resilience and trauma have largely focused on the individual (Muldoon and Lowe, 2012) and these models have been heavily informed by the biological, psychoanalytical, cognitive and behavioural approach. They therefore underestimated the importance of social factors (Haslam, Jetten, Cruwys, Dingle, and Haslam, 2018) and in their review of social predictors of resilience among trauma victims Cacioppo and colleagues (2011) concluded: “The key to resilience is not individual strengths alone. [...] social resilience depends on the development of greater awareness of our connections with others..." (Cacioppo, Reis, and Zautra, 2011, p. 50).
Likewise, McCleary and colleagues highlighted: “The importance of being connected to others during stressful times, a strong sense collective purpose in hard times [...].” recently in their editorial of the special issue on resilience and trauma (McCleary and Figley, 2017, p.2). Yet, how individual and group dynamics are interdependent in mitigating trauma and fostering growth is a missing piece in the work on resilience. This is also important because the current crisis is a collective one and citizens experience it all at the same time; it is therefore key to understand whether community resilience and social identities play a role in the psychology of crisis and could help to mitigate some of the negative consequences.
The goal of our proposed project is to uncover social implications of Covid-19 at scale. To this end, the project looks at resilience and trauma through a new lens - the lens of the social identity approach (Haslam, 2004). Accordingly, individuals’ experience of traumatic events is not random. It is rather determined by the groups, which the individual belongs to and identifies with (Haslam et al., 2018; Muldoon et al., 2019). Following this, we propose that these group memberships and processes arising at the group-level must be taken into account when aiming to understand what makes people resilient and how they respond to traumatic events.
The study aims to investigate individual and group level processes simultaneously in the response to the crisis and provide evidence-based guidance for policy makers that are trying to deal with population-based emergencies and crisis to foster growth after experiencing a crisis. Our study will aid prevention plan for policy makers across the globe in address mental health and wellbeing during and after the Covis-19 crisis.
Thank you to those that have helped us in our project across the globe. We have put together a Google map showcasing where everyone has helped us from.
The quantitative data of this three-wave longitudinal study will be obtained from citizens around the world (in at least 30 countries). In total, we aim to recruit over 3,000 citizens globally, who will be invited to fill in two online questionnaires within the next six months. Completion of each online questionnaire will require 15-20 minutes and can be administered on a computer or smartphone.
The questionnaire will measure the psychological constructs on the individual- and group-level using validated and reliable scales. We have already obtained ethical approval from the LSE Research Ethics Committee. Our study will aid prevention plan for policy makers across the globe in address mental health and wellbeing as a result of Covid-19 crisis.
You are invited to take part in the survey.
Dr YingFei Héliot
Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour, University of Surrey
Dr Ilka H. Gleibs
London School of Economics and Political Science
Nottingham Trent University