COVID-19 UPDATE: Combating Social Isolation With the Columbia Protocol: A Community Resource to Mitigate COVID-19 Related Mental Health Sequelae
We hope this note finds you and your loved ones safe and coping well with the realities of this global pandemic of COVID-19.
As the potential for unprecedented periods of increasing social isolation becomes the new normal due to directed social distancing by Public Officials, we must provide access to any and all resources that may prove helpful in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the nation and world. Tools like the Columbia Protocol that assist with behavioral self-help and guidance for neighbors, friends, co-workers and colleagues to conduct ‘health and welfare’ checks on their employees, neighbors, friends and family members over email and telephone become increasingly important. This ability to connect via this simple tool will be one of many important strategies to help deal with the next wave of this problem: increasing social isolation and disconnectedness from resources and capacity to help address underlying aspects of health and wellness.
To stop the coronavirus pandemic, take care of ourselves and of those for whom we care, we all face the unprecedented mandate for social distancing. The stress, especially for those with fewer resources, is inordinate. However, social isolation is not an inevitable consequence of social distancing, as we do have tools that connect us even when we cannot shake hands. Whether alone or on the phone with a friend, neighbor, a colleague, we can continue to do these ‘health and welfare’ checks. Tools such as the Columbia Protocol for suicide risk screening are incredibly valuable in providing concrete and non-judgmental language for addressing fear and isolation.
We at the Lighthouse Project want to remind you that in times of crisis we need to be ever more attuned to the risk for suicide in our vulnerable populations. The Columbia tools remain useful to everyone — medical professionals, first responders, teachers, researchers, and community members — in times of social distancing or even quarantines, because it can be delivered in so many different formats. These tools are as effective when used telephonically, in telemedicine, in a Google classroom, or even by self-report using our app available for Apple and Android phones. We need tools like the Columbia Protocol in the hands of everyone to help us stay connected and to help fight expected social isolation stemming from this necessary social distancing. As always, we are here to assist you in any way you might need us.
Find us on the web at cssrs.columbia.edu or download the Columbia Protocol app for iPhone or Android.