As an expert in resilience, I believe these unprecedented changes have had a significant and adverse impact on the mental health of many people.
And there is no end in sight. If ever a moment called for understanding the concept of resilience, this is it.
Resilience is the ability to adapt to adversity or a stressful life event. Research on resilience has a rich history, dating back to the 1950s; those studies focused on children growing up in high-risk environments. More contemporary research looks at how we adapt to traumatic events like cancer, natural disasters, loss of close family members and most of all a whole lot of uncertainty.
Resilience can be learned
While some researchers suggest resilience is “trait-like” – that is, hard-wired into one’s personality – others say it can be learned and acquired later in life. Some even say adversity brings potential benefits. “There is nothing better than adversity,” said the activist Malcolm X. “Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve the next time.”
The pain and suffering during this pandemic is undeniably real for everyone. But specific segments of the population are disproportionately affected, for some of us it has just been that push too far. It is hard to see the way forward sometimes and the uncertainty makes us feel powerless.