Social isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has particularly impacted the psychological well-being of many older adults. Older adults indicated feeling stressed and lonely during the COVID-19 pandemic, with feelings of loneliness increasing the most when social distancing was enacted (Emerson, 2020, Kotwal et al., 2020). Social distancing measures increased lonely feelings as social contact and support decreased (Tomaz et al., 2021). Feelings of isolation and loneliness in older adults have been associated with depression, anxiety, poor sleep quality, and COVID-19 and other health related worries (Kotwal et al., 2020; Gaeta and Brydges, 2020; Sepúlveda-Loyola et al., 2020). Indeed, a recent meta-analysis has shown that social distancing regulation due to the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the mental health of older adults (Rodrigues et al., 2022). Cognitive failures might also be a potential result of social isolation experience (Santangelo et al., 2021). In addition, physical health is known to be negatively impacted by poor mental health (Ohrnberger et al., 2017). The impacts of social isolation on mental health is predicted to persist well beyond the end of the pandemic.
Social support is a known protective element of mental health (Li et al., 2021). Indeed, meta-analysis has demonstrated the positive impact of peer social support on the mental health of all groups of individuals (Suresh et al., 2021). Perceived social support protects against loneliness, worried feelings, irritability, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression (Grey et al., 2020; Zysberg and Zysberg, 2022). Increased social networking decreases feelings of isolation and increases perceived social support in older adults (Czaja et al., 2021). Interestingly, support from a broad peer group has been found to have a greater negative association with depression than support from close friends (Rueger et al., 2016). Online support groups positively impact mental health and create a secure place for people to be able to freely share their feelings and experience without fear of being judged by others. In addition, online support groups allow individuals with similar experiences to interact with each other, making them feel less alone in their experiences (Agrawal et al., 2021).
Mindfuli protects older adults against feelings of social isolation and loneliness leading to improved mental and physical health. Our proprietary care pairing technology matches clients with care team members including paraprofessionals and licensed therapists that are best suited for who they are and their mental health needs. This machine learning algorithm uses demographic and personality variables to predict the establishment of a strong therapeutic alliance between clients and care team members, driving positive mental health outcomes. Weekly meetings with care team members provide social and emotional support throughout our clients’ mental health journeys. In addition, crisis support counselors are available at all times every day through the Mindfuli app. But with Mindfuli, the social and emotional support extends beyond care team members as peer social support groups provide a broadened social support network to help our clients overcome mental health challenges. Furthermore, routine standardized assessments ensure care team compatibility and monitor individual progress towards positive outcomes. Mindfuli’s social isolation care path combines the power of a highly compatible and dedicated care team with peer social support groups and reliable outcome measures to achieve optimal mental well-being and improved overall health and functioning.