Communities should support their members to help them cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) ahead of the launch of its annual Wellness Week Campaign, which runs September 12-19 this year.
This year´s Wellness Week campaign highlights the ‘Stronger Together’ campaign, which aims to raise awareness of mental health, community participation and to provide tools and information to promote psychosocial support during difficult times. The campaign was launched in the Caribbean in July by PAHO in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank.
Specifically, the campaign asks people to “look, listen and link,” referring to the role communities and individuals can play in looking to see who around them needs help, listening to them to understand what their needs are, and linking them with support services. Individuals can also use their own strengths and abilities to help neighbors however they can.
“Each of us has strengths that can help us cope during difficult moments,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne. “Let us look for ways to put these abilities to good use to support those around us – especially those who may need it the most, including people who have lost loved ones or are facing burdens and barriers that existed long before the pandemic, but that have been made worse because of it.”
The campaign distributed materials on psychological first aid (PFA), a humane, supportive, and practical response to a fellow human being who is suffering and may need support. It included special safety and disease prevention considerations due to the COVID-19 pandemic while providing aid.
Since its inception in 2011, Wellness Week has called for action to combat noncommunicable diseases and make the healthy choice the easy choice. In 2018, the campaign expanded from a disease focus to highlight how health promotion is essential at the community level. The campaign not only focuses on prevention but also on supporting the empowerment and engagement of individuals, building healthy communities and facilitating collaboration, all while promoting health.
Countries and territories around the Americas will also be hosting their own national and local Wellness Week events.