Who will we be when this is all over?

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Then consider that 43% of essential workers are people of color, according to Chandra Farley, director of the Just Energy program at Partnership for Southern Equity. “We sometimes automatically label people as vulnerable, without saying that they are. made to be more vulnerable to certain things because of systemic racism and historical inequalities, ”Farley told WIRED in August. A study published in July According to researchers at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, in the poorest counties in the United States, those with large non-white populations had eight times more Covid infections than those with predominantly white populations and nine times the number of death. All that to say: who you become during and after the pandemic depends on your systemic privileges.

Age is also a factor. The elderly are more susceptible to severe Covid-19, but they are also more susceptible to isolation. And isolation at his own risk, for both physical and mental health. “I have to say that my opinion is quite dark,” says Elena Portacolone, a sociologist at the University of California at San Francisco. Seniors living alone can also struggle with health problems like diabetes, cancer or dementia.

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Those on fixed incomes may have already lagged behind before the pandemic and are now grappling with additional costs. For example, the price of food has exploded during the pandemic. Money can be so tight, says Portacolone, that some elderly Americans can barely afford to buy masks. “So the suffering of being stuck and having very little money has been exacerbated by the pandemic,” Portacolone says.

At the same time, one of the few benefits of the pandemic is that it has paved the way for the elderly and others to seek care. “There has been a big shift in telehealth and digital mental health,” says Heinz. That’s because mental health workers like Heinz haven’t been able to see their patients in person, so they turn to video sessions. After the pandemic, she hopes this trend will become permanent. “Working to access resources and care digitally is a change that I hope continues,” adds Heinz.

Video conferencing can also help ease loneliness. In June, entrepreneur Cat Lee co-founded a service called Pace. It’s a bit like Zoom, but for group therapy. A mental health professional acts as a facilitator for therapy groups, whether for struggling moms and dads, or for those going through a divorce or separation that is all the more difficult during the pandemic without access to health networks. support. (Heinz acts as a facilitator for Pace.) “A common theme is that people struggle in isolation, feel lonely, and want to feel connected,” Lee says. “And these groups give people a chance to practice empathy with each other and vulnerability.”

Pace is not intended to replace individual therapy, but to complement it. The idea is to provide a way for people to talk about their issues and find community in the midst of a pandemic. “You go through similar life circumstances or similar struggles, and that breaks the ice and kind of builds trust, and serves their purpose of deepening connection with others,” says Lee.

And as horrific as last year has been, perhaps the pandemic can bring about changes in ourselves and within communities. Perhaps you have learned cooking or a new hobby or finally started this novel. Perhaps you have been more diligent in keeping in touch with distant friends and relatives. Maybe you’ve gotten to know your neighbors better. “There has been so much unhappiness and sadness, trauma and adversity,” says Heinz. “And I think what we sometimes forget in the middle of that, when we’re in the weeds, is that we’re capable of a lot of growth when we’re going through tough things. And sometimes we come out of them as better versions of ourselves, both as individuals and as communities.

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