---All aspects of health
Our understanding of mental health has come incredibly far in a single generation, giving us much more appreciation of its importance to our well-being. People now openly discuss everything from depression to substance abuse to general satisfaction with life. And our societies have developed a wide range of tools and assistance for those in need. Be it access to psychologists, substance abuse support groups or shelters for those fleeing domestic abuse, to name but a few.
Yet our current situation has tested our mental health like nothing in living memory. Forced isolation combined with anxiety from a pandemic has brought levels of stress, sadness and depression that were unimaginable before Covid. Simultaneously, many of our most effective means of combating mental illnesses are either no longer available or only accessible online, despite being less effective if experienced through screens. This means that the importance of coming together as a community has never been higher. We need to implement physical, not social, distancing. Simply calling to check on loved ones, close friends or even simple acquaintances living alone can go a long way to alleviating feelings of loneliness.
Substance abuse has spiked, as have alcohol and cigarette consumption. Watching for warning signs among those close to us and intervening where possible can help curb addiction issues before they become too severe. Above all we must be at our most vigilant with those who are at risk of domestic violence.
The mental health of children is most challenging of all. We know next to nothing about how the pandemic and lockdown are impacting the long-term social and emotional development of our kids. We’ve gone from reminding our children to cut down on their screen time to allowing them digital social interactions and little more. Still, at the very least we can turn this into a lesson in solidarity. Instead of focusing on the fear of the virus itself we can remind our kids of how society is coming together to protect the vulnerable. We can make it clear that these sacrifices are to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus to those most at risk of severe health complications.
Lastly, beyond our individuals actions, we can remind our community leaders at all levels how important mental health is to our society’s well being. As a start we could consider as essential services such things as counselling and peer support sessions including alcoholics anonymous. This would allow people in need to meet in person in the same ways caregivers are allowed in retirement homes. Shelters for victims of abuse should safely remain open, with our governments creating messaging campaigns to remind those at risk that they have a safe way out. And this regardless of the level of alert we're in. These services have still been offered at times over the last year, but governments should make it clear that in the future these programs will not be interrupted. As we work to ensure physical safety we must also attend to our collective mental well-being. It’s of critical importance, now more than ever.