A new study revealed that despite struggles with the post-pandemic new normal, increasing homelessness, and mental health challenges, almost 20 percent of Antelope Valley residents consider themselves as “thriving.”
The study, conducted by The Wellbeing Lab, revealed that while 9.3 percent reported they were “really struggling” and 31.6 percent “not feeling bad but just getting by,” 40.2 percent of residents reported “living well, despite struggle,” demonstrating that even when facing a global pandemic, a changing political and economic landscape, and numerous personal and professional challenges, it is possible to be well “despite” struggle.
“Before and throughout the global pandemic our studies with thousands of respondents have repeatedly found a statistical difference between those ‘living well despite struggle’ and those “not feeling bad but just getting by,’” explained Louis Pallor of The Well being Lab. “But not in Palm dale. We saw similar levels of well being for people who say they are in both categories.”
“When we gathered data in late June, we saw that even with sociology-economic hardships and pandemic stress, some residents, particularly the Latin community, showed a determined optimism in their well being levels,” he said. “This is a great place for the Antelope Valley Well being Coalition to learn what is working well and build upon it.”
On the other hand, upper adolescents, age 18-24, were most likely to be really struggling, and a prime place for the Well being Coalition to implement positive interventions.
The data clearly shows that caring for community well being is more than just the sum of how individuals are feeling and functioning. Instead, well being perceptions, experiences, and behaviors are diverse, and are shaped within communities by:
• Interpersonal factors (erg., personality, skills, motivation)
• Interpersonal factors (erg., the quality of our connections with other)
External factors (erg., housing quality, education levels, access to food and resources, equality) that dynamically impact each other.
For example, people who were thriving even in the face of struggle reported:
• Higher levels of ability and motivation to care for their well being, and safe spaces to talk with others about the well being challenges they may be facing.
• Having access to community healthcare facilities, natural environments (like parks), mental health support, opportunities for connection and well being information and tools are also important.
• Feeling like they belonged in at least three or more places in their community – like their family, with friends, at work, or in their spiritual community.
Given the restrictions mandated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to try and minimize the spread of COVID-19 – from stay-at-home orders to physical distancing requirements – it is not surprising that almost half of Antelope Valley (AV) residents (46 percent) reported feeling lonely and isolated. Loneliness is a mismatch between the connection people crave and the connection they have. Studies have consistently found that feeling lonely and isolated is detrimental to mental and physical well being.
Three of every 10 people (29.6 percent) in the AV felt it was best to keep their struggles to themselves. Given managing money was the leading cause of struggle for 22.3 percent of respondents, followed by mental health (16.7 percent) and dealing with people (15.3 percent), normalizing and making it safe to talk about these struggles for more people in the community could really help.
“It’s understandable that after having to demonstrate their resilience over and over again during the global pandemic, people are tired,” acknowledged Pallor. “The data suggests that if the community wants to hold onto this resilience leaders need to be prioritizing safe spaces for residents to recover and reconnect as we navigate a new normal.”
To help make going back to the workplace and school a healthy and happy process, Pallor suggested the following approaches for AV residents and leaders:
• Prioritize space for real connection – We’ve all found dealing with people challenging when we’re feeling exhausted. Acknowledge that your community members have demonstrated incredible resilience in the face of ongoing uncertainty and disruption over the past year and encourage them to create spaces for human connection at work and school. It might be scaling back the number of meetings, encouraging people to take lunch breaks, a bonus long or homework free weekend, or simply reminding people that we value taking care of each other.