How to support friends and family during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in profound and unprecedented ways. Most if not all of us are worried about someone we love—whether it’s a relative, a friend, or our community as a whole.
In the face of this crisis, it’s important to remember that even the smallest acts of care can make a difference. We’ve compiled the tips and resources below to help you find simple, concrete ways to take action.
If you’re looking for a way to help a loved one who’s struggling with anxiety, grief, or isolation, one of your best options is simply to reach out. Whether it’s via call, text, or email, let them know you’re there and invite them to talk openly about the fears and day-to-day challenges they’re experiencing. Make a special effort to connect with anyone in your community who may be particularly vulnerable, perhaps because they live alone, they’re at higher risk from this disease, or they struggle with a mental health challenge. Talking about hardship can be uncomfortable, but just acknowledging that someone is struggling truly does help.
If you have a loved one who’s feeling especially anxious, it may also help to support them in setting healthy boundaries around their exposure to social media and the news. Let friends and family know that while you want them to be informed, you also understand that 24/7 coverage of the pandemic can take a mental toll, and you’re always happy to talk about something else. If you notice that someone is overwhelmed with conflicting or speculative information, you can suggest a reliable news source such as the World Health Organization or recommend focusing on local news sources to stay informed of events and opportunities in their immediate community.
Other signals could include:
- The Elephant in the Room: Talking About Loss and Hardship with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (Option B): Simple advice that can help you start a conversation with someone who may be struggling right now
- How to Support Your Loved One with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (Option B): Learn how to be there for people you care about by following the “Platinum Rule of Friendship”—treat others as they want to be treated.
- How to Talk to a Loved One About Hardship—and Why It Matters (Option B): Tips for starting, and continuing, an open conversation with a loved one who’s navigating hardship.
- How to Support a Loved One Going Through a Tough Time During COVID-19 (Mental Health First Aid USA): Practical guidance from experts on how to support loved ones dealing with mental health challenges during the pandemic.
- How Can We Look After Older People When Coronavirus Has Made It Impossible to See Them? (Quartz): Suggestions for staying connected and supporting elderly friends and relatives when in-person contact isn’t an option.
- COVID-19 Mythbusters (World Health Organization): Facts and explanations aimed at countering common misconceptions about the coronavirus.
- Five Ways to View Coverage of the Coronavirus (American Psychological Association): Advice for staying informed without becoming overwhelmed.
- Want to Help Others Avoid COVID-19? Don’t Share Misinformation! (News Literacy Project): A good explanation of how and why false rumors spread, along with tips for verifying sources and finding credible information.