Feeling discriminated against or stressed out during the pandemic? You're not alone.
According to a community-engaged action research project, called PROTECH, the Chinese Canadians and diasporic communities — as the first racialized groups hit by the COVID-19 pandemic — have experienced increased stigma and racism. The project says this has intensified the overall mental health, economic and social impact shared by broader Canadian communities.
PROTECH has launched a Pandemic Acceptance and Commitment to Empowerment Response (PACER) Training program in Ontario, to provide participants with tools to cope with COVID-19-related demands and challenges.
PACER consists of six interactive online learning modules and six corresponding weekly group video conferences.
“Our goal is to increase psychological flexibility, resilience, and capacity to promote community prevention and empowerment efforts,” said Cindy Lu, content management co-ordinator of PROTECH.
The program is unique in that it builds on the insights gained from stigma reduction and empowerment interventions previously carried out by the team members, Lu added. She said lessons were learned from the HIV and SARS pandemics, where many people were at the forefront of the community response to address racism, stigma, and mental health challenges.
“We will conduct the training in two different streams,” Lu explains: PACER-HCP for health-care providers and PACER-COM for the Asian community. The latter is offered not only in English, but also in Cantonese and Mandarin.
In general, you are eligible to participate in PACER if you are:
• a front-line health/social service provider or staff at any health-care/social service setting, or;
• a member from the Asian community, and:
• you have been affected by COVID-19, or;
• your family members have been affected by COVID-19, or
• you are a community leader, or a volunteer committed to promoting community collective resilience.
Markham resident Zhang, who has completed the training, believes that it emphasizes the construction of her own values.
“For example, I like travelling, but I can’t go because of the pandemic,” she said. “Then I learned that I could replace it with other things while still keeping the values in my heart.”
Zhang started to rethink what it is she likes about travelling.
“I want to find happiness and reunite with my family and friends far away,” she explained. “Actually, I can achieve the same effect by reading some books, documentaries, and video chatting with relatives and friends. At the same time, I made future travel plans and worked hard in this direction.”
This study has been approved by the Ryerson University Research Ethics Committee and the University Health Network Research Ethics Committee and aims to work with the Chinese community to cope with the continuing impact of the pandemic.
Participation in this study is voluntary. As an appreciation, those who complete the questionnaire with receive $20. An additional $30 will be offered for attending a followup online focus group three months after the end of the training.
To sign up for PACER, you can fill the Eligibility Screening Questionnaire, and a co-ordinators will contact you when a cohort slot opens up that aligns with your availability.
The new PACER-COM training will start from Jan. 27. More information can be found at https://projectprotech.ca/working-together/pacer-training/.
Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun