The Foundation for Art & Healing’s campaign to foster and maintain social connectivity during periods of COVID-19 related physical isolation
To address emotional distress caused by the unprecedented public health demands to establish physical isolation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation for Art & Healing (FAH) (www.artandhealing.org) is launching a new initiative: Stuck at Home (Together). This program will deploy a variety of evidence-based creative expression and mindfulness-oriented activities to enable, enhance and sustain social connectedness while reducing the stress and anxiety that many are experiencing.
Designed to be a welcoming and accessible web destination that provides normalization and personalized engagement with a new and potentially distressing “lived experience”, the Stuck at Home (Together) web site www.artandhealing.org/stuckathome, will offer activities and tools for people to navigate isolation related distress in a positive way, improving resilience and reducing the risk of stress-related mental and physical health impairment.
The Stuck at Home (Together) web site will include these elements:
- Welcome, normalization and activation experience
- Will welcome site visitors, recognize the universality of the challenge we all are facing and emphasize the importance of maintaining virtual social connection
- Use selected high-impact videos (like the singing from the balconies of Venice) to emphasize the power of the arts to provide a sense of social cohesion
- Orient the site visitor to the experiences on the site, and guide them towards ones that may best fit their needs
- Avenues for increased social connection.
- Story Share Prompts. A selection of questions to compel reflection on lived experience and interactive sharing with an online community
- Creative Challenges. This changing array of activities will be designed to engage users in fun and accessible art-making activities. An additional feature will allow users to sign-up to have these Creative Challenges delivered to their email inbox semi-weekly and will facilitate increased sharing.
- StoryFest. A nimble ‘flash’ video event that highlights micro-storytelling around themes of social distancing while capitalizing on social media channels.
- ‘Theater’ of UnLonely films. A small collection of films, drawn from UnLonely Film Festival archives will be posted to normalize and personalize feelings of isolation and the feelings of distress that follows. Each film is accompanied by probing questions and post-film viewer engagement activity suggestions that illuminate the film's relevance to social distancing and encourage the active sharing of individuals thoughts and feelings.
- Resource Guides. To meet the pressing need for credible information, the site will include a list of resources to help visitors navigate their new COVID-19 reality. These resources will direct users to reliable sources that address physical health, mental health, and social health concerns.
- Community Check-in. An evolving array of brief user queries, designed to track user experience, evaluate site efficacy and identify emerging community support requirements.
The continuous design, evaluation, deployment and evolution of the Stuck at Home (Together) components will be managed by FAH staff and advisors. Once launched, ongoing community promotion and targeted outreach will be guided by a Task Force chaired by FAH Board Member and former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin MD and comprised of key stakeholders from a variety of organizations and industries including government, advocacy groups, health systems, research organizations, health plans, academia, large employers and educational institutions.
ABOUT THE FOUNDATION FOR ART & HEALING
Led by Harvard Medical School faculty member Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH and founded in response to the September 11th 2001 attacks, the 501c3 non-profit Foundation for Art & Healing (www.artandhealing.org) has over 15 years of experience designing and deploying effective programs that harness creative expression activities to enhance health and wellbeing. FAH’s signature initiative, the UnLonely Project, has played a critical role in raising awareness around the loneliness epidemic in the U.S.
Through its UnLonely Film Festival, now in its fourth year, the UnLonely Project has reduced stigma around the often-ignored topic of loneliness, positioning it as an issue meriting urgent public health attention. At the heart of all of FAH’s programs is the integration of creative arts expression, mindfulness activities, and social-emotional learning strategies, all coming together as a powerful catalyst for enhancing connection to oneself and others, altering attitudes, beliefs and behaviors in ways that mitigate the burdens of social isolation and loneliness.