New Publication Presents an Innovative Internet-based Social Work Intervention to Create Solace and Hope during COVID-19

October 17, 2020

What happens during a strict lockdown of a megacity of 22 million residents for two months? Isolation, anxiety, fear, and depression for many. But thanks to an innovative Internet-based social work intervention, some also found solace and hope.

In a new publication, Professor Qin Gao and her collaborators that include three front-line social work practitioners present how families from across Beijing benefited from social-emotional support and community building through an indoor micro-gardening project facilitated by social workers online. The article is published with open access in International Social Work, a scholarly peer-reviewed journal designed to extend knowledge and promote communication in the fields of social development, social welfare, and human services.

The article featured an Internet-based intervention named “Garden on the Balcony” aiming to not only alleviate anxieties and discomfort within urban households but also strengthen family resilience and cohesion through an interactive, mutual support online community. The intervention was provided by a grassroots social work agency, the Beijing Zhong Qing Social Work Development Center. Three social workers from the agency - Zhen Cheng, Ji Zhang, and Yang Wu - are coauthors of the article. The lead author, Yixuan Wang, is an assistant professor at China Youth University of Political Studies.

Drawing from this intervention, the authors highlighted several lessons for social workers around the globe to address challenges created by COVID-19. In particular, the authors wrote that “as COVID-19 continues to restrict in-person interactions and traditional social activities, this type of online social-emotional support and community building should become a major social work method for crisis intervention and service provision.”

Read the article "Creating solace and hope during COVID-19: An innovative Internet-based social work intervention"

Columbia Affiliations
China Center for Social Policy