Covid-19 – ‘Don’t stand, don’t stand so, don’t stand so close to me’
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Coronavirus. Covid-19. The ‘rona’. Call it what you will, it has stirred up our lives in almost unprecedented ways and I couldn’t really get through 2020 without addressing it and the effect it’s had on both physical and mental health, unfortunately. I feel like I’m tired of reading about it and that everyone else probably is too but I’m still going to write this blog. It’s a memorable event that’s had a huge impact on the world and needs to be respected. Not respected as in, gangster respected, but respected in that it’s dangerous and potentially life threatening. Maybe that is gangster respected. Meh. Semantics.
The individual stories coming out of this time are both heart-breaking and inspiring. Heart-breaking because people are dying, alone in many cases, which is a situation that many of us simply can’t comprehend. Knowing that your loved one is leaving this world and you’ll never be able to see or speak to them again is horrific at the best of times, but not being able to say goodbye or hold their hand as they slip away? I have no words for that. There’s none big enough to describe it.
The inspiration comes from seeing how communities have rallied around each other to support those who are more vulnerable and in need of a bit of extra help. Volunteers offering to go shopping, pick up medicines and walk people’s dogs. Others willing to pick up the phone and check on a neighbour who may just be a bit lonely and fancy a chat. People like Captain Tom (Colonel Tom I should say!) who had a simple goal of walking around his garden a hundred times and ended up raising millions for the NHS. The fact that the NHS isn’t a charity and we shouldn’t have to fund it with charitable donations is another story but that’s a rant for another day.
At the beginning of the year we could never have imagined we’d end up where we are now. We saw what was happening in China but that was China, it’s on the other side of the world we’ll be fine! Clearly, we were wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. I’m not sure what the actual death toll is right now because I’ve stopped reading the news to support my own mental health, but I think at this point it’s over 40,000 in the U.K. alone. How did we let that happen? Was it preventable? Could we have done things differently? Probably, but it’s too late now. We can’t change what’s happened, we can only learn from it and try to do better next time, because there will be a next time there’s no doubt about that.
The effects of the virus on mental health have been astounding. I was on a training course the other day (online of course) and the instructor made the point that Covid-19 has done more for getting people talking about and raising awareness of mental health than mental health professionals have managed to do in years. And it has. The community projects sprang up because people knew that isolation and worry could cause anxiety and depression in anyone and everyone. Even better, we’re acknowledging the potential mental health struggles of young children being separated from their peers and not being able to go to school, an often brushed aside idea because they’re children. They’re not expected to have mental health issues but they really do, just like everyone else.
If we learn nothing else, I hope we can remember how this pandemic showed the importance of proper mental health services, accessible to all and finally acknowledge that there is a desperate need for them. I wish Covid-19 hadn’t been the catalyst but it has, so we need to keep the momentum going.
Has 2020 been a rough year? A million times yes. No contest and we’re only halfway through. Have we learned from it?
God, I hope so.
If you enjoyed this you may enjoy my take on the term ‘social distancing’. Spoiler alert: we’re not really social distancing:
If you’d like more information on Covid-19, you know just in case you weren’t able to find any (unlikely I know but go with it), then check out these links: