This CWP project aimed to reduce COVID-19 related grief in Harlem’s Black community by partnering Columbia researchers with local faith leaders and other community leaders to address intense and pervasive grief that has emerged as a result of the pandemic.
Deaths from COVID-19 are twice as high in Black communities in the United States as in white communities, according to recent data from the CDC. Additionally, studies show that inequities and disparities interfere with the process of adapting to loss. While attempts have been made to address the causes of these health disparities, less attention has been given to how to address and alleviate the Black community’s persistent, pervasive grief in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project partners included leaders from the Harlem community, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania scholars and students, who are adapting digital tools – such as apps and videos – developed by Columbia’s Center for Prolonged Grief to address prolonged grief disorder, a form of grief that is unusually intense and enduring and that pervades everyday life.
The project focused on two fronts: Guided by experts at SAFE Lab at the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, the project partnered with Mobilizing Preachers and Community (MPAC) to engage Black community leaders and youth in Harlem in a series of focus group discussions and also collected and analyzed personal narratives about experiences of grief from members of the Black community in online forums. The insights from these focus groups and from an analysis of the online writings will be used to adapt the Center’s digital tools to better serve the Black community. The modified digital tools will then be disseminated across Harlem and to other communities coping with similar challenges.
In Partnership With:
- Center for Prolonged Grief (Columbia School of Social Work)
- Mobilizing Preachers and Community, New York
- SAFE Lab (the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Social Policy and Practice, the University of Pennsylvania)
Nicole AlstonColumbia UniversityProject TeamRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Nicole Alston is a social worker with a particular expertise in grief who has served the Center for Prolonged Grief at Columbia University in various capacities over many years.
Johnnie GreenThe Mount Neboh Baptist ChurchProject LeadRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
A native of Dallas, Texas, Dr. Johnnie Green is the son of Deacon Johnnie M. Green, Sr. and the late Mrs. Earmer J. Green. Green earned his Doctor of Ministry from Drew University, Master's...
Desmond Upton PattonUniversity of PennsylvaniaProject LeadRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Desmond Upton Patton is the Brian and Randi Schwartz University Professor and Penn Integrates Knowlege (PIK) University Professor of Social Policy, Communications, and Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
M. Katherine ShearColumbia UniversityProject LeadRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Katherine Shear is the Marion E. Kenworthy Professor of Psychiatry and the founding Director of the Center for Prolonged Grief at Columbia School of Social Work.
Henry A. WillisColumbia UniversityProject TeamRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
Henry A. Willis, Ph.D. graduated from the Clinical Psychology program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is originally from Jackson, Mississippi, and he received his...