Social Isolation, Together
Occupational Therapy Student Blog Post
Dec 1, 2020
Euka Beloria, Dominican College
Carissa Martinez-Cabral, Dominican College
The government has had to enforce “social distancing” measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect the vulnerable. Although these strategies were necessary to protect the public’s physical health, they have also had a negative impact on mental health. People are detached from their loved ones and deprived of freedom. Human beings are simply not designed to be isolated for a long time.
The uncertainty and separation from loved ones can make people feel anxious, and unsafe.
Occupational therapists (OTs) are uniquely equipped to help the general population collectively in adapting to the harsh change in life circumstances. OTs can help people find their identity and purpose in these times of abrupt change. They have the expertise to address abrupt changes in one’s life and decrease the negative effects of a stay-at-home order.
Right now, most people are feeling distant and isolated. Humans need social interaction to feel less lonely.
The Afya Foundation is unique in the way that it incorporates occupational therapy strategies in all of its aspects. Afya understands the people’s need for connection and community. At Afya, volunteers are able to satisfy their need for face-to-face human contact while doing something that helps millions of people.
One volunteer shared that Afya had become like a second home to her. She says, “I look forward to getting out of my house to work with others and help people who are in need all over the world.” The Afya Foundation extends different opportunities for individuals, families, or groups to join the humanitarian efforts, and find a sense of community and togetherness.
Afya accomplishes this by following strict safety measures. Only 15 volunteers per day are permitted in the warehouse. All volunteers must sign up ahead of time. Volunteers are asked to complete a health questionnaire. When arriving, temperatures are taken prior to entering the warehouse. All volunteers are provided with masks and gloves. Lastly, all surfaces are sanitized regularly throughout the day. This ensures a safe environment for people to come and volunteer.
Volunteer work has become a platform for social participation, decreasing anxiety, strengthening job skills, and finding meaningful work.
People who frequently volunteer say that it provides them with a sense of purpose and encourages resilience. Volunteer work also contributes to a feeling of connectedness and belonging in the community, things that are extremely lacking during quarantine. Volunteering at Afya offers a worthwhile way to satisfy a person’s need to safely interact with other people, and feel a little less lonely in these dark times.