Mental Health, consequences of Quarantine
I’ve watched day by day as society has gleefully abandoned its protections for mental health in our communities. Last week I spoke about the impact of the media’s mania for ‘isolation’ on those of us who struggle to spare ourselves our own lives in even the best of times. Since then I’ve been called an idiot, and been bombarded with the message to ‘just be strong’ – like that never occurred to me. Being told to be strong, stiff upper lip, etc. has long been a feature of societal ignorance about mental health. Before the CoVid crisis it looked like we were making real progress in changing the terms we use around mental health – that it takes community, understanding, and real human connections to treat and prevent crises. Now people like me who desperately need human contact and connection to see off the demons of substance abuse and suicide, are pariahs and ‘idiots’. This approach is guaranteed to result in deaths.
Here’s what’s happening to mental health in our local community:
- The pubs have closed. Think about your local, think about the crew of ‘regulars’ – the ones who sit by themselves at the bar, or in small groups watching the horse races. For many of these people their daily time at the pub is their only social contact, their mates and the bartender are their only family. In some cases these people don’t know how to cook for themselves, or otherwise take care of themselves. The bartender might be the only person to tell them they’ve had enough to drink, or that they should eat. I’ve seen what happens when someone dies alone, forgotten by their family and society (I’ll never forget the smell of a body that lay decomposing for 3 weeks before someone decided to check on the man’s welfare). How many corpses will we be pulling out of cheap, single, accommodation at the end of this?
- Abuse. How many people in our community are being abused by a spouse, partner, parent, child, etc.? Until this crisis many of those at least had the escape from their abuse via work, school, whatever social life their abuser allowed them – or escaped the abuse while the abuser was at work etc. Now these people have been ordered to stay together. How many black eyes will we count on our neighbours faces when this is over? How many children will be born after spousal rapes? How many broken bones, emotional scars, suicides, and murders?
- The Kids. We love our kids, we try to be the best parents all the time. But, ‘my kids are driving me crazy’ is not a joke or an exaggeration when there’s no way out. Many people are working from home, with all the stress that brings, while trying to deal with kids kept home from school, their activities, mates, even the playgrounds. And the parents have no escape either. I know this may not apply to any of you, but what about parents who were already on the edge – economically, socially, mentally? I don’t want to guess what kind of abuse kids might suffer in this crisis, but it’s clear that a lot of things that were keeping at risk kids safe have been taken away in a panic.
Here’s a couple articles – from an epidemiologist and a public health researcher – asking us to consider the effectiveness, and long term effects, of extreme quarantine:
Joy Scout Deliveries
Here’s what I’m going to do to save my own mental health (and my life – last week started with a long suicidal crisis). And, moreover, what I’ll do to help protect your mental health:
I’m loading up my cargo bike with a mobile shop. I’ll organise by ‘theme’ – starting with a load of arts and activity books and jigsaw puzzles, then to board games, then pre-school aged toys and activities. I’ll keep these on rotation as long as possible and post the hours for each ‘load’ here and on Instagram.
You can request a visit via email, comments section here, DM on Instagram, and text or call 0754 625 6685. If you have neighbours you know might need a Joy delivery, please let them know, we could be quite efficient if we’re getting streets organised!
When I come to your house we’ll need to coordinate our ‘social distance’: I’ll message you once outside, then you and one child at a time can shop the contents of my ‘shop’ whilst I maintain a 2m social distance, I will also don a respirator if you request this before my visit (I can’t breathe while wearing it cycling). All my software runs on mobile data so I can ring up your purchase from that distance and send it to the card reader. At each stop, I will wrap the card reader in a new piece of plastic wrap which I will ask you to dispose of once we’ve processed your payment.
If you know I have an item you’d like specifically, I will be happy to deliver anything from the shop you request.
Since I’m not on much social media, I’d appreciate any re-posts of this to places you think it might be needed.
Peace, love, and joy!