COVID-19 Impact in Israel:

A Call for International Networking to Promote Resilience and Coping among Front-Line University Social Work Students

Shmaya Bender – BSW*

shmayab@post.bgu.ac.il

Mor Yehudi – MSW

moryehu@post.bgu.ac.il

Roi Erel – BSW*

erelro@post.bgu.ac.il

           

COVID 19 is a serios challenge faced by university students responsible for the well-being of individuals, families and communities (International Federation of Social Workers, 2020).  This brief report provides insight of COVID-19 impact on the health and well-being of Israeli university social work students during the first and second waves of infection.

“R.M.” is a 26-year old female student who works as a counselor in a community based mental health residential facility for young adult patients.

” I’m a very social and friendly person that needs social interaction, so social distancing and quarantine led to deterioration of my mood resulting in short episodes of depression, low self-esteem and incompetence… In response, I began self-medicating with cannabis and alcohol more than before … In the beginning, it was a way to deal with boredom, but [overtime] it was needed to escape reality and generate calm.…During quarantine, I was heavily self-medicating but continued my client responsibilities….”

 “Y.M.” is a 22-year old male student providing mental health services to youth with behavior problems placed in a residential facility.

“As an instructor in a home for at risk youth, the coronavirus outbreak was an emotional obstacle for me, a heavy responsibility regarding the emotional therapy I provide to teens… At the beginning of the outbreak, the fear was intense and I was quarantine for two weeks.  That decision caused me much guilt, leaving the teens when they needed me most.”  

“M.S.” is a 23-year old female student counselor working with older adults at a local welfare office.

“At the beginning, I didn’t take the virus seriously and continued to do my clinical work online … I was highly affected by older clients who expressed anxiety, fear and loneliness… and began to experience such conditions myself.  My workplace offered me to stay home. I felt guilt and anxiety about that decision……As weeks went by, my clients began to relax and adjust to the situation; and, my ability to treat them became better.”

Discussion

The COVID-19 pandemic is a major crisis with multiple consequences for those needing and providing support and services. For social work students addressing COVID-19, opportunities for international peer contact and experience sharing should be promoted to build student residence and coping during disaster conditions that call for social work intervention.

For download click here:https://www.iassw-aiets.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Front-Line-Social-Work-Students.pdf