May I please briefly put on my Captain Obvious hat and make a statement?
Thank you. Here it is.
The past few months haven’t been easy.
While we have all been impacted, some of us have been hit harder than others. Some have lost their jobs outright, while others continue to work, albeit under a modified schedule. Others may be working even more than they were before.
Some of us don’t know anybody who tested positive for COVID-19, while others may have lost someone close to them or cannot hold the hand of a loved one who is in hospital or dying.
Regardless of how we have individually been impacted, the pandemic has put a stress on us unlike any before. And it’s been especially tough for people who suffered from anxiety before the coronavirus made its dramatic entrance into our collective consciousness.
Judy Darcy, B.C.’s minister in charge of mental health and addictions, told a “digital town-hall meeting” on Monday, 50 per cent of Canadians are indicating their mental health has suffered because of the pandemic, “and about 16 per cent say they’re living with depression.”
As Tom Zytaruk reports in this week’s Now-Leader (click here), Darcy says humans thrive on social connections, and that is adding to everyone’s stress.
“On top of the financial stresses, on top of the physical distancing, on top of home-schooling kids, fear of getting sick, there are also the things that often bring us joy in life – the traditional celebrations that Surrey is also really known for,” she said. “Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings. A lot of things that give us joy we haven’t been able to do. ”
And while Darcy didn’t want to talk about any good coming from this crisis – “I don’t want to talk about there being silver linings in this pandemic, because it’s been a really tough experience for everybody” – I will.
Firstly, as she pointed out, one of the good things that has come out of it is that people are talking about mental health a lot more than they were before.
“People are learning that it’s OK to say that ‘I’m not OK.’”
Communities are coming together, from groups like amateur radio clubs, which are hosting regular ‘nets’ over the airwaves to see if anyone needs help, to local mosques, churches, temples, businesses and students, who are finding new ways to serve their neighbours in their time of need.
And while learning at home presents challenges for many kids, I am hearing many stories about young students getting out of their comfort zone and finding new and creative ways to learn.
Families are spending more time with one another. Dinners are being eaten at the table and conversations are being had. Daily walks around the neighbourhood are giving spouses and their children more time to talk about their day.
I, for one, want to keep that new tradition going no matter what.
I often think about how life has slowed down, and whether or not this will be a lasting lesson when this crisis is far behind us.
After a few months of isolating, life now seems like it was far too busy before COVID came around.
The rat race was much too hectic.
If we learn to slow things down and come out of this with stronger families, what a great thing that will be. It’s just too bad it will have taken a global pandemic to make it happen.
Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org