Mental health COVID-19 crisis
Is our mental health suffering? We find out today that the Prime Minister was so distracted by divorcing his wife and getting his girlfriend pregnant that he missed five COVID-19 COBR meetings. These were held in February, at the crucial very beginning of this pandemic reaching the UK. That’s enough to make you feel depressed to start with. Read the full Times article here
To be fair, he was listening to advice from the WHO (World Health Organisation.) The WHO had declared that there was no person to person transmission of the virus. I wonder who told them that.
Evidence shows that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a mental health crisis as it swept through China. Fear caused by the new germ’s deadliness, a strict quarantine, mistrust of officials who mishandled the outbreak and a wave of social media misinformation all took their toll on mental health.
In China, during the outbreak, “generalised fear and fear-induced overreactive behaviour were common among the public”, while depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder all emerged.The result was “a heightened public mental health crisis”, according to a paper in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, published by the US government’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
A mental health challenge – staying positive
I appreciate that people needed to be frightened a bit to get them to take notice and make drastic behaviour changes. But prolonged periods of time living in fear is not good for human beings.
Every few days Public Health England brings out some new variation on the ‘stay in or die’ campaign messages. It’s a shame they weren’t as quick to negotiate with smaller UK companies who offered to make PPE and ventilators but didn’t fit in with their procurement criteria.
A new survey shows two-thirds of Britons are struggling to stay positive about the future in the face of the epidemic.
I listened to a 90 year old man who phoned in to a talk radio show. When he heard that he would have to stay in isolation for another year he said ‘I just can’t face it. Us people over 80 can’t work technology and so we can’t benefit from it. I survived the second world war but this has affected my mental health terribly.’
Romanians come to the rescue
There has been quite a lot of coverage in the news about the fact that our home grown produce will rot in the fields unless someone turns up to pick it! There has been an appeal for UK workers to replace the previous workforce from Eastern Europe that we have been relying on for quite a few years now.
Some plucky Brits have rallied to the cause, but not nearly enough. I would certainly have volunteered if there had been any farms local to me.
After much argey bargeying with Romanian airports about letting flights take off, food companies have chartered their own planes and flown in thousands of workers from Romania. They are being kept together and transported together to the farms. Crowds of people entering the country after we all have to stay in under lockdown seems absolutely crazy.
Fruit picking for mental health?
I have been to Romania, and it is a very poor country. This work will be an economic lifeline for a lot of people there. If we don’t have fresh fruit and vegetables in our shops, then we will suffer too. The ideal solution would have been to have us lazy lot pick our own stuff, but this is another behaviour change challenge for the native population to take on board. It’s hard physical work for not a whole lot of money.
I have sympathy with the migrant workers – click here read my blog about rural Romania. Gorgeous medieval countryside, but few jobs for anyone.
On a brighter note. I can’t travel anywhere at the moment but I can still look at my collection of lovely vintage travel posters. Californian artist Jennifer Baer has created some clever coronavirus-inspired travel posters. The posters allow us to laugh at these uncertain times of lockdown and self-isolation, reframing them as housebound adventures. Staying in is the new going out!