"Psychological distress in populations is widespread. Many people are distressed due to the immediate health impacts of the virus and the consequences of physical isolation. Many are afraid of infection, dying, and losing family members. Individuals have been physically distanced from loved ones and peers. Millions of people are facing economic turmoil having lost or being at risk of losing their income and livelihoods. Frequent misinformation and rumours about the virus and deep uncertainty about the future are common sources of distress. A long-term upsurge in the number and severity of mental health problems is likely." Policy Brief: COVID-19 on the Need for Action on Mental Health (UN, May 2020, p. 2)
---------- The UK Blessing (music video, May 2020) Singing a blessing over the nation...and over the world. "The Lord is for you.The Lord is with you. Our buildings may be closed but the church is alive."
In this Update we share more resources in the world community's battle to confront the corona virus. Specifically we focus primarily on faith-based and faith-sensitive resources (mainly Christian) to support ourselves and others during the prolonged challenges and uncertainties.
Many of the resources deal with managing the causes and consequences of stress: COVID-Distress. Examples include anxiety, trauma, depression, confinement, loneliness, loss, grief, relationship strains, coping for children, work insecurities, spiritual struggles, uncertainty/concerns about what may "really" be going on, etc.
We also want to emphasize that for hundreds of millions of people, the issue is not only COVID-19 but frankly ongoing survival--managing daily life in settings inundated with multi-dimensional poverty, protracted violence, human rights violations, and gross inequalities. Our many overlapping, major crises continue unabated even as COVID-19 takes center stage in our world.
We begin the Update with suggestions for COIVD-19 responses by Adjith Fernando (What Could Christians Be Doing Now?) and finish with a new article that we jointly authored on stress and trauma in humanitarian work (Engaging in Humanity Care). We think you will find many of the resources below to be helpful for your life and for your work in member care and mission.
Don't be afraid. Trust God. Do good. Stay safe, connected, compassionate, and hope-filled.
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Featured Resources Managing Stress and COVID-Distress Faith-based and faith-sensitive resources
COVID-Distress Continuum Monitoring distress--individual through international levels. How are you doing? What helps you stay resilient? <----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> 1. minimal 5. moderate 10. major inconvenienced/annoyed overwhelmed/devastated ----------------------
"Deeply concerned by the morbidity and mortality caused by COVID-19 pandemic, the negative impacts on physical and mental health and social well-being, the negative impacts on economy and society and the consequent exacerbation of inequalities within and between countries….[The WHO World Health Assembly] calls for, in the spirit of unity and solidarity, intensification of cooperation and collaboration at all levels to contain, control and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic..." World Health Organization, Resolution on the COVID-19 Response (May 2020, paragraphs PP 1 and OP1)
What Could Christian Be Doing Now? Ajith Fernando, Sri Lanka (May 2020).“While the Bible does not dwell much on the “whys” of things like epidemics, it clearly teaches that when there is a great need, Christians must seek to be involved. Our God is [the God] who acts, and he often acts through us. Let us look at some biblical principles which we need to be asking how we should apply at this time.”
Anxious Times. Corinne Gnepf, Olive Tree, Turkey (May 2020).“Undoubtedly, these recent months have not gone by without leaving marks on you. It is likely that at one point or another you have felt anxious, distressed, upset or depressed because of how Covid-19 has impacted you. Many more people around the world have experienced a heightened level of anxiety as lives, jobs, family routines, livelihoods, and relationships have been impacted or threatened. Forced isolation, social distancing, the worries about loved ones, missing out on milestone events such as weddings, graduations, anniversaries, and other special events takes a toll. Being stuck in a tight space with people who you love but can seriously get on your nerves, or with people who are unsafe to be around can be highly stressful. Being faced with too many deaths and the risk of working in the health care system is traumatic. All of these and many more can cause severe distress. Many people have gotten infected, struggled for every breath, fought back to live. All of these scenarios are difficult, period.”
A Self-Care Guide for Change-Makers and Peacebuilders during Covid-19. Annalisa Jackson and Nicholas Sherwood. Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation, Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University USA (2020). This three page summary briefly describes 21 ways to take care of ourselves and our households (see image above). “It is important each of us take care of ourselves, paying attention to the needs of our own bodies, our minds, and our spirits. We should recognize the new reality we face can contribute to increased feelings of sadness, anger, discouragement, or being overwhelmed. A key component to taking care of ourselves during this time is identifying the things we can control rather than focusing on the things we cannot control. While it is critical to physically isolate as much as possible during this pandemic, finding strategies to maintain our health and our connections with others will significantly impact our well-being.”
Source: United Nations Christian Association, Geneva
Faith and COVID-19 Response. Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. “COVID-19 is a global crisis that needs all communities across the world, together with governments, UN entities, and broad civil society organizations, to join forces in keeping people safe and well. As an international learning exchange, the JLI aims to facilitate evidence building and creation to support faith and COVID-19 response. We will update this page with JLI collaborations and partner initiatives (as possible).” Note: There are many faith-based organizations listed with resources for the pandemic.
Spiritual First Aid: A Step-by-Step Disaster Spiritual and Emotional Care Manual (COVID-19 Edition).Humanitarian and Disaster Institute, Wheaton College USA (2020, also in Spanish). This manual is a “disaster spiritual and emotional care intervention… using both biblical wisdom and evidence-informed psychological insights….[It provides] a step-by-step approach to learning and providing spiritual and emotional care for others…remotely and while staying at home.” It is oriented for those with a Christian worldview.”
Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide.World Health Organization (April 2020).“[This] is a stress management guide for coping with adversity. The guide aims to equip people with practical skills to help cope with stress. A few minutes each day are enough to practice the self-help techniques. The guide can be used alone or with the accompanying audio exercises. Informed by evidence and extensive field testing, the guide is for anyone who experiences stress, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.” Note: Broadly speaking, the "values" emphasis/section in this guide could also be used to identify and integrate one's spiritual and religious values into coping. More COVID-19 resources for information and support here from WHO.
Recovery and Wellness—COVID-19: Operating Considerations for US-based International NGOs(May 2020), developed in collaboration with many INGOs.“The events of the past several months have presented a wide range of challenges to the International NGO (INGO) community as COVID-19 has spread rapidly around the world. The operational realities of COVID-19 are causing organizations to create and adapt processes and procedures, reassess organizational customs and norms and establish new ways of working. Organizations are dedicating significant energy to projecting forward and making operational changes to uphold their duty of care and provide staff with a work environment that considers this new reality. Recognizing this effort, the INGO community came together to produce Recovery & Wellness, COVID-19 which convenes subject matter experts and practitioners from the fields of Human Resources, Insurances and Benefits, Staff Wellbeing, Security and Risk Management and Non-profit Law and Compliance. Each module seeks to provide guidance, suggestions for internal communications and an action list organized by Highly Recommended, Recommended and Beneficial actions. These are general recommendations which may not apply uniformly to all organizations and were specifically designed for small to mid-sized organizations.”
Engaging in Humanity Care: Stress, Trauma, and Humanitarian Work. Kelly O’Donnell, Heidi Pidcoke, Michèle Lewis O’Donnell. Christian Psychology Around the World; Special Focus: Coping with Stress in Theory and Practice (Issue 14, May 2020, pp. 153-167). “In this article we focus on the wellbeing and effectiveness (WE) of staff in the humanitarian sector. More specifically, in Part One we highlight stress and trauma for humanitarian workers and in Part Two we share perspectives and resources to support humanitarian workers. We draw from our work as Christians in mental health and member care and in the context of our broad, multi-sectoral involvements for “engaging in humanity care.” Keep in mind the personal and organizational benefits when everyone involved in the humanitarian sector stay resilient and healthy. This includes administrators, managers, leaders, volunteers, international and local/national staff, family members, teams, organizations, and the helpers themselves.”
Member Care Associates Inc. (MCA) is a Christian non-profit organization working internationally from the USA and Geneva. We focus on personnel development for mission, humanitarian, development, and health workers and their organizations; global mental health; ethics and good practice; and integrity/anti-corruption. Our services include consultation, training, research, developing resources, and publications.
Our Special News-Updates1) promote the wellbeing and effectiveness (WE) of staff and sending groups and 2) support the diversity of colleagues with member care responsibilities. The focus is on the mission sector with applications for/from the overlapping health, development, and humanitarian sectors.
Global Integration(GI) is a framework for responsibly and actively engaging in our world--collaborating locally through globally for God's glory. It encourages connecting relationally and contributing relevantly on behalf of human wellbeing and the issues facing humanity, in light of our integrity and core values (e.g., ethical, humanitarian, human rights, faith-based). See our recent perspectives and clarifications about GI from a Christian perspective--HERE.