As COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, there is mandatory 7 to 21-day quarantine for travellers who arrive in Hong Kong and Mainland China from overseas. Since self-isolation may affect people’s emotional health adversely, Lingnan University (LU)’s Wofoo Joseph Lee Consulting and Counselling Psychology Research Centre (WJLCCPRC) has designed a self-assessment questionnaire and intervention exercise to help people in quarantine cope better psychologically.
A hundred and twenty-five people from Foshan, Zhuhai and Shenzhen who had been in compulsory quarantine for at least 14 days between August 2021 and March 2022 were recently recruited for a study conducted jointly by the WJLCCPRC and the psychiatry department of Shunde Wu Zhong Pei Hospital, Foshan.
Respondents filled in the online questionnaire on their physical, emotional, behavioural responses to quarantine, their capacity to be alone, and whether or not they have a “growth mindset”, using their mobile devices or computers and starting from the first stage of isolation (before Day 3). They did a follow-up survey in the middle of the quarantine period, on Day 8, and again just before the end of quarantine, on Day 13, to see if there were any changes.
The interviewees were then randomly assigned into three groups, with one doing one intervention exercise and the second group doing four intervention exercises. The remaining control group was not given an intervention exercise to do. Results showed that most people were able to stay in good physical and mental health during the quarantine period, although some experienced negative feelings such as anxiety, loneliness, and a sense of helplessness. The two groups asked to do intervention exercises showed better psychological competencies with a growth and a gratitude mindset, and the group given four exercise interventions was able to achieve greater sustainable mental wellbeing than the group who only did one exercise.
Project leader Prof Siu Oi-ling, Chair Professor of Applied Psychology and Director of the Wofoo Joseph Lee Consulting and Counselling Psychology Research Centre of Lingnan University in Hong Kong, explained that the self-assessment test designed by Lingnan University aims to develop respondents’ growth mindset and increase their resilience so they can face adversities and challenges with a positive attitude. “Self-isolation is a fact that cannot be changed, therefore one can only adopt psychological adjustment to deal with it, and this also applies to everyday work and life. The self-assessment test helps participants understand the implications of quarantine for individuals and society, and improves their abilities to tackle loneliness,” she said.
Prof Siu noted that Prof Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, examines self-conceptions and motivation, showing that people with a growth mindset believe their skills and intelligence can be improved with effort and persistence. They embrace challenges, persist despite obstacles, learn from criticism and seek inspiration in others’ success.
She added that Lingnan University’s simple exercise can be completed in a few minutes and includes watching online videos. It helps to improve the growth mindset of those in quarantine, as well as their health and psychological wellbeing, and strengthens their gratitude mindset and ability to tackle loneliness. Prof Siu said the study has proved that the self-assessment test is effective, and LU will post the exercise on online platforms in the hope it may help people fight COVID-19 by developing their growth mindset.