The Mental Health Pandemic

Cued by an article in the Guardian today, I have been doing a little research into the mental health crisis caused by the pandemic. Apparently, the number of people in the UK experiencing symptoms of depression has doubled and as of December last year in the USA it had quadrupled.

I speculated at the beginning of all this that there would be an OCD epidemic with long lasting hand washing rituals. I may even need some moisturiser myself. There will be PPSD, post pandemic stress disorder. What shape that will take will keep the psychologists and psychiatrists busy for decades. It is unknown.

It seems to me that the virus is by way of a pebble {or boulder} thrown into a pond or lake. Its effects will be multifarious. Many are not yet obvious. Whilst we might be yearning to get back to “normal” I don’t think that will happen any time soon nor do I think it helpful to yearn. We might be setting ourselves up for a massive disappointment which will only compound the mental health problems.

I am relatively lucky, having had cancer, I am not really scared of dying. There is less fear for me. I have had asthma attacks. For someone who has never had one, experiencing difficulty breathing must be terrifying. When I go into the supermarkets, I see the eyes. Funny now we are all masked, the eyes are much more obvious. In some of them I can see fear. One can smell it. Others have the dilated pupils of antidepressants. As one does the socially distanced dance of avoidance in the aisles some are genuinely petrified. I have had some smiley eyes doing a jokey dance with me. Eyes with some light left.

The only way is to try to be as present focussed as one can.

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.

Bil Keane

I guess that boulder has whacked the dreams of the future for a whole swathe of people. Wherever they thought they might be headed looks very uncertain, whatever plans they made, trashed. The white picket fence and 2.2 children, unattainable.

There are already calls for more mental health professionals. They cannot be drawn from a hat by magic. There are calls for more medics, nurses and related carers. Where are they going to come from?

If the pandemic ends, will some people miss it? Quite possibly. Having been holed up for months agoraphobia might show an uptick in prevalence.

I think I am picking up signs of ever decreasing circles, by this I mean that social interactions are getting much smaller, perhaps fewer and tighter. We are losing friends and acquaintances off the edge of our worlds. Variety in interaction is decreasing.

The real hammer blow to economy is perhaps only just beginning, sooner or later we are all going to have to tighten our belts and pay for all the relief schemes. Heaven forbid that interest rates start to rise.

Already research articles on pandemic mental health have started appearing. I suspect that this whole topic will grow.

Maybe we will need to consider how we live our lives, perhaps even face up to the climate crisis and do our bit instead of just talking about it.

 Strange times which may yet get even stranger.