A 21st Century Response to Global Crisis: Enhancing Pandemic Coping Strategies by Weaving an Intricate Social Fabric

A 21st Century Response to Global Crisis: Enhancing Pandemic Coping Strategies by Weaving an Intricate Social Fabric

Arisha Andha, Haydee V. Soriano, Lauren G. Hahn, Peri Yuksel
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6732-6.ch001
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Due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (aka COVID-19), lifestyles across the world have changed. The ongoing uncertainty of a new global reality of social transformation has already put severe psychological stress on families and individuals and may lead to a state of dissociation, helplessness, and exhaustion. Worldwide, homes have become classrooms relying on human ingenuity and technology, widening the educational gap for under-resourced communities. As “normal” life has rapidly moved online, adaptive coping with ongoing crises is crucial to maintaining emotional and mental wellbeing. The current chapter is guided by previously published trauma-informed research and outlines remedies to build resilience in conquering the acute mental and educational challenges associated with COVID-19. Society's collective success in overcoming the current global complexities and crisis in education requires courage, healthy community connections, and sustainable human-computer collaboration beyond borders.
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A multiplicity of tumultuous economic events and armed conflicts have characterized the 21st century as one replete with anxiety. Between 2001 and 2020, national and global financial crisis and recessions have generated a paradigm of financial uncertainty, while civil wars and deleterious insurgency occupations in the Middle East have displaced a record number of people, confounding economic insecurity with civil safety concerns. Amidst geopolitical discord, humanity now faces a novel pandemic, namely SARS-CoV-2 — a severe acute respiratory syndrome, coronavirus 2 — which has drastically changed the functionality of the workforce and the education system, affecting global humanity. Homes have become classrooms or offices, and sometimes both necessitating families’ reliance on collaborative technology to practice social distancing, aka physical distancing. Without access to schools and campuses, vulnerable students who once received external social assurance and scholastic affirmation are now heavily dependent on household members to fulfill social needs and provide academic support. Students of diverse backgrounds and learning needs may also be at higher risk of vulnerability due to limited or no access to essential services once offered by their schools. The sustainability of students’ socio-emotional health and cognitive vitality traditionally relies on adaptive roles, responsibilities, and routines of caretakers. While caregiving can be a joyous and enriching experience unmatched with any other experience, limited coping resources may increase stress and lead to social impairment undermining the quality engagement between a caregiver and a child (Azhari et al., 2019; Nelson-Coffey, & Stewart, 2019). With shelter-in-place situations, caretakers themselves might experience heightened anxiety surrounding their adherence to social distancing policies, the threat of economic instability, fear, rumors of infection, and in some cases bereavement of lost loved ones. Even more significant is the obligation to face these concerns with scant opportunities for social support. Although not every household may experience burnout, the ongoing uncertainty and limited means of social engagement have already put severe emotional stress on families which may lead to a state of dissociation, helplessness, and exhaustion.

During such unprecedented times, the authors turn to previously published research for recommendations on coping with the stressors of the pandemic in homes and in classroom settings. Pandemics have been known to leave lasting imprints on those who live through them for which negative psychological effects may proliferate throughout an entire generation of humanity (Almond, 2006). To prevent longstanding damage to families, communities, and the education system, administrators and leaders should carry an acute moral responsibility to facilitate the adoption of effective teaching and learning practices in times of crisis. As the COVID-19 health crisis was approaching its apex and in-person learning was deemed unsafe by authorities, 191 country-wide school closures affected approximately 1.5 billion learners and remote learning was rapidly adopted for teaching (UNESCO, 2020). Subsequently, the usage of teleconferencing and collaborative software expanded beyond classroom practices. The effort to maintain contact was heeded in response to a need for normalcy and emotional connection. Access to social media and digital platforms may have eased social loneliness and helped people stay emotionally connected (Greenhow & Chapman, 2020). Nevertheless, the lack of in-person communication and its plausible aversive effects on long-term childhood development remain to be investigated.

The goal of the current chapter is to point out factors which contribute to stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and offer remedies to reduce the risks associated with chronic trauma. The next sections outline the psychological challenges faced by those living through the tumultuous uncertainty of the 21st century, review crises responses of various leaders, experts, and activists, and suggest remedies to the persistent anxiety of the times.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Resilience: The ability to cope with and overcome adversities and/or trauma.

Family Dynamics: How members of a family interact with each other and what are the established roles for each family member.

Trauma: Unbearable and disturbing experiences (e.g., sudden death of a loved one, rape, childhood abuse) or events (e.g., natural disaster, war, 911) that cause emotional or physical distress.

Stress Response System: The fight or flight response initiated by the body because of a perceived threat.

Critical Thinking: Evaluating scenarios or situations to make sound decisions or judgements based on knowledge.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Trauma- and stressor-related disorder, which can cause increased stress and anxiety in reaction to reoccurring distressing memories of the traumatic event.

Coping: Effectively dealing with negative stimuli.

Trauma-Informed Teaching: Adaptive teaching strategies to help create a safer, predictable learning environment for students suffering from trauma.

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