I guess everyone is talking about Covid-19 and our mental health right now.
For good reason, because mental health problems can last many more years than physical ones and can even have long term health consequences too. In fact, for those who complain about how much strain we put on the NHS, a lot of that strain could be reduced with robust mental health support.
So why is Covid-19 different? Or, to put it another way, what extra stresses and strains does it cause?
Firstly, it takes away much of our human contact. This can be really important for many people, and that contact could include support workers, psychologists, therapists and so on. Video counselling does work, but it lacks that human contact we need on an instinctive level.
For those who dislike small spaces, or feeling enclosed, the Covid-19 isolation procedures are almost certainly going to make life feel oppressive and restrictive. Even if this doesn’t apply to you directly, we are all bound to get a bit of cabin fever every now and then.
And how would you feel if were trapped in a home that was abusive? Or maybe next to neighbours whose behaviour is distressing for you? Perhaps you feel that if you ask for help you won’t get it, or if you try to get away you will be arrested, or if you go to hospital you will catch it. Maybe you’ve been stuck in a long queue at the chemists, and you are frightened that if you go out you will be stuck in one again.
A couple of my clients have been in touch with me because under the Covid-19 lockdown, their anxiety isn’t about being kept at home, it’s going to be when they go to work. So for them, being at home has undone months of hard work they’ve put in getting over anxieties that may revolve around work, or public transport.
We also musn’t forget the families who have lost loved ones, the health workers who have seen all this suffering happening right in front of them, the businesses that are failing, employees of those failed businesses…the list is potentially enormous.
Traditionally, mental health has always been the poor relation when it comes to funding. If this situation does not improve, the consequences of Covid-19 may echo down future years for some time to come.