Thursday, 22 July 2021

Mental health in lockdown

is an issue which has not been taken seriously enough. It was therefore interesting to note that the local rules have been changed in order to allow people who live alone visit or be visited by a friend. 

I am one of those fortunate, indeed very fortunate, people who is generally content with my own company. I always have more than enough to do. Since the advent of the internet and social media I can have virtual contact with people all over the world. That has been a mixed blessing. It has made work much more demanding - and means that I am working past the age when most people have comfortably settled into retirement. At the same time it means that I can "chat" to friends abroad. 

I try not to use any social media with local friends. We might email each other but if I want to chat with them then it is better to pick up the phone, have them call in for a "cuppa", and so on. Social media is not the same as actually seeing someone. It is not the same as waiting your turn to speak, as making eye contact, as hearing the emotion in someone's voice when something has made them sad, happy, regretful, or amused. 

But I know there are a lot of people who are not like me. They need human company more than I do. They may not need it all the time but they do need it. Our mental health services are stretched so thin that those working in the area, like Nephew Cat, are struggling as much as the patients they see. It is as big a problem as the pandemic itself but it is a largely hidden one. People are not aware of it.

When the Senior Cat was living at home we would often go our separate ways apart from meal times. He would be in the garden, in his shed or in his "office/study". I would be in the kitchen or at a household task or at work at my desk . We didn't interrupt one another often. We did not need to do that - but we were there if we needed each other. I suppose that made it easier for me. I miss him not being here but I can still get on and do things. I am not sitting in front of the television set staring at mindless day time "chat" programs. I don't turn the radio on either. I prefer to work in silence.

But if you are a naturally gregarious sort of person then it must be difficult, very difficult. There is a lovely woman who lives not far from here. She always seems to be out and about. She phoned me yesterday and asked if she could borrow something from me. I am not sure she really needed to borrow it. I suspect she just needed to hear another voice. Lockdown is very difficult for her. 

I know mental health services have been over loaded. It isn't just adults who are not coping. There are children right around me who are anxious and fractious. One of them has been hitting out and his parents are seriously alarmed by this. After a lot of discussion, some of it with me and some of it with a paediatrician of their acquaintance, they are getting a dog. It will be the boy's responsibility to care for it...and they will ensure he does. He needs something like this but not every family can do a similar thing. It is not a solution which would work for everyone. 

During the last lockdown a lot of people discovered or rediscovered the satisfaction of a craft, of creating something. I hope that they will continue to grow their skills at such things over the coming week. It won't be enough in itself but it might help. I hope more people might be able to lose themselves in the companionship of a book too. 

Middle Cat and I will talk to the Senior Cat on the phone. I will make a couple of calls today to check on elderly people I know - and who I know will be alone. The weather isn't conducive to going out today so I am doubly content to stay here but I know it isn't easy for people who yearn for company at the best of times.

We all need some human contact, really need it. There are only a very few people in this world who are entirely successful hermits. I am not one of them. I also have a duty to consider my fellow non-hermits.

No comments: