UW professor studies effects of isolation during pandemic

SEATTLE — Social distancing is helping Washington flatten the curve.

But while saving lives, it's also coming at an extraordinary cost to our mental well-being.

“From my perspective as a clinical psychologist, I've never been more concerned for society,” said Jonathan Kanter.

Kanter is the director of the UW Center for the Science of Social Connection. He's been studying how people in King County are coping in these uncertain times.

“Our data suggests if you have certain troubles coming into this, then the crisis has exacerbated that,” he explained.

It's particularly concerning for folks who have substance abuse issues, or have been suffering from depression or anxiety.

Kanter knows it's not limited to our area.

That's why, with most states under a stay at home order, Kanter is launching his study on a national level.

“Just checking in with people every evening on how they're doing, anxiety depression, coping, all of that. But in addition we're also having some tips that we'll be sending people each day. The tips are meant to help people cope better, help people deal with mental health, relationships, connections right now,” Kanter said.

As businesses remain closed and people stay in their homes, Kanter hopes his work will eventually help inform public health officials during this pandemic which, for now, has no end in sight.

“The more people who are doing well right now will start to struggle and not be doing so well over time. The unpredictability of it is probably one of the driving factors,” Kanter added.

To sign up the study, visit this link.

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