Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the resulting shift to online workspaces for many businesses, the dynamic of the global workforce and how businesses can provide services is changing. There is no doubt that a move towards a digitisation was on the horizon even before COVID-19, as technology is an integral part of even the smallest details of modern life. But now that we have seen that we can do so much online in terms of work and services, it is worth raising the question – will we return to normal? Which parts of normal are even worth returning to? Perhaps the shift to online and work and service providing will become the new normal, even after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

But how does the movement towards digital life affect how we provide services to individuals? As advanced as our technology is, with lines of communication open to pretty much anywhere in the world, it still doesn’t make up for authentic, in-person connection. We naturally crave connection as a result of millions of years of evolution. We are social creatures and work better together, in communities or as a team, that we do on our own. Those who didn’t know this before will likely realise it now, as social distancing and self-isolation are being implemented around the world to prevent the further spread of the virus, measures which are leaving many of us stuck at home and subject to isolation and loneliness.

What businesses, and people in general, need to figure out, then, is how to create connections with others in the digital world, where even a basic connection like a hug or a handshake isn’t an option.

One area of service providing that is heavily impacted by the need to move online is mental healthcare. Many patients benefit from person to person connection as any psychological difficulty brings with it an inherent sense of isolation and loneliness. Add to that the implementation of self-isolation and social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the only pandemic to worry about, there is also the loneliness pandemic.

Essential precautionary measures to flatten the curve of the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing and cancellation of community events, can lead stress and can trigger or exacerbate underlying psychiatric conditions in people. To deal with the anxiety surrounding the uncertainty, providers should acknowledge the uncertainty about the pandemic, not avoid it for fear of instilling further fear and panic, and help patients to understand that there is an emotional aspect to potential health concerns. By acknowledging and addressing the issue as effectively as possible, service providers and patients can come together in a joined effort to get through the pandemic. As difficult as it may be, it fosters a sense of togetherness and community, as we’re all making our best efforts to fight the disease.

Providers should consider the following recommendations for promoting wellbeing in patients:

  • Stay informed
  • Educate patients on appropriate and effective prevention techniques
  • Help patients identify and focus on areas of prevention that they can control
  • Have proper information available
  • Encourage those experiencing anxiety to limit media exposure to a single credible source, as opposed to the countless non-credible sources emerging online.
  • Promote self-care and care for your loved ones.

At Heather R. Hayes & Associates, Inc., we are tackling this problem by offering professional, independent clinical guidance and support for individuals across the life span online.

Our foundation offers its services through Telehealth, a platform for enhancing health care, public health and health education delivery and support using telecommunications technologies.

Our services, which are now available online, include:

We understand that implementing the crucial steps towards an effective treatment plan and recovery can be incredibly daunting and difficult, exacerbated further by the ongoing health crisis facing our country right now. We know that times are difficult not only for those suffering from addiction and other mental health disorders, but for families of those affected, who no longer have external, in-person care options for loved ones. It is therefore incredibly important that our services can be flexible and can be delivered through online platforms to continue supporting those who need it, at every stage they require.