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EmotionalAid USA

I am leading

Photo of Sonali Verma
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COVID-19 has brought about extreme anxiety to vulnerable communities. I am a cancer survivor and empathize with those who are terrified of the virus spread due to their low immunity or age. Coping with these negative emotions and isolation can be tough. I strongly believe that hearing and learning from the experiences of others is one of the most helpful coping resources. I'm also hosting zoom sessions and setting up a hotline to make this more human and less about purely content consumption. 

I am in over 20+ facebook cancer support groups where people are panicking but also emotionally supporting each other - looking for an outlet. I setup Covid Emotional Aid, an initiative led by members across the US wanting to support the the most vulnerable during COVID-19 - such as the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions. We're a community dedicated to providing emotional and practical support for those most vulnerable. 

I also volunteer at the SF Suicide Prevention hotline which has been an extremely busy and utilized resource. Conducting immersive user research to better understand mental health helps me understand the impact COVID-19 is having on our collective mental health and particularly those who may have any existing mental health concerns.

Upload or share a link to this resource/message/source of information to share it with others.

Here is the link to the facebook page where our initiative is starting:

There are hundreds of facebook community groups around chronic illnesses/cancer that are trying to support each other now. One example is a facebook community of 34k members called "Cancer Survivors and Supporters":

Did this resource motivate you to change your behaviors?

  • Yes

In what ways did you change your behaviors as a result of this resource?

When I studied human happiness at UC Berkeley, I learned that “Happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness." If you’re putting an effort - even the smallest - to leave this earth better than you often feel better. Don’t take it too seriously. Don’t overthink it. Just DO something that’s useful - anything.

Giving back to the community can actually be a coping mechanism. Helping setup and lead an emotional support group, I went from feeling powerless and afraid to feeling useful and in control. I experienced this form of happiness and energy after my own chemo treatment. Cancer patients often experience this when they step out of the roll of the "sick patient" and into the role of "helping others navigate their own cancer experience". 

Did you share this information with your network?

  • Yes

In what ways did you share this information?

Facebook and instagram!

Where are you getting information around COVID-19?

  • Social Media
  • WHO (World Health Organization)
  • NGO or Non-profit Organization
  • Trusted mental health nonprofits and blogs about coping.

What populations or personas are not currently being addressed with today’s COVID-19 information?

Vulnerable communities with low immunity (e.g cancer patients, lung disease, and more)

What is your current profession?

I am a user experience researcher at Google health (previously working at Verily Life Sciences).

In what city are you located?

San Francisco and Danville

In what country are you located?

United States


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