Lockdown and mental health

It has worried me from the start that politicians aren’t factoring mental health impacts into their choices. I thought today I’d talk about some of what I can see happening, in the hopes that if any of you are experiencing this, there will be some comfort in identifying the mechanics. This is UK based but may apply other places.

We’re social creatures, so being asked to isolate is really hard. Doing it heroically to save lives is feasible, most of us can get behind that and sustain it. Doing it when economically based contact is allowed, but love is not, is brutal. We can go back to work, but we cannot go to family, friends and lovers who do not live in the same house as us. We are allowed our economic relationships, but not the ones that matter.

None of this ever made any sense. The biggest source of spreading is households. If one person gets it, everyone gets it because most of us don’t have room to isolate from our families. We should never have been asked to do this. Ill people should have been isolated in medical facilities, keeping their nearest and dearest safe. If you have vulnerable people in your household the advice has been to go to work and isolate from them at home. Technically difficult, and emotionally harrowing. We should be able to cling tight to the people we love, and be confident we can keep them safe.

Big events with hefty financial aspects were allowed to go ahead when they should have been cancelled. Plane loads of people from virus-afflicted areas were allowed in unchecked. We were put at risk, all of us, for the sake of money. This kind of treatment will impact on your mental health. We’ve been lied to and blamed, over and over. This is gaslighting, and it makes people mentally ill.

The whole thing has been organised the wrong way round from the beginning. We should have been protecting close relationships and getting people away from numbers of strangers. We’re safer when we can assess our risks together. The friend I can talk to about how we handle this is far less hazard to me than the stranger who coughs on me in a supermarket. Not being allowed to keep the people we live with safe has massive mental health implications for many people, as well as the hideous virus implications.

Usual mental health advice is all about staying connected with people who can support you. We know what people need to be well, but that knowledge has been ignored throughout this crisis. If we put mental health first, we give people resilience. If we had protected intimate relationships and sacrificed economic ones, we’d be better off. If we had done this the other way, people would have felt less need to push back against the rules.

Usual mental health advice also tells us to get fresh air and exercise. The mental health of people with no gardens, and people living in cramped conditions is not being talked about. It should always have been ok to sunbathe at a distance from others. It should never have been ok to force non-essential, usually low paid workers to keep working and commuting. One of these things runs the real risk of spreading disease and the other, simply does not.

Faced with political choices where you and your loved ones are at risk, and you can’t do the things that might sustain your mental health – little wonder if many of us are suffering. We should always have been putting life ahead of money, and mental health is a key part of life, not some kind of luxury extra for the better off.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “Lockdown and mental health

  • Ladysag77

    You make a really valid and important point here, I completely agree! I live in the Srates and our idiot in chief cares solely on appearances and $$. I fear people are going to be worse off while we reopen haphazardly here. There hasn’t been any real safeguards put in place here as far as testing, mask wearing or anything else firmly enforced. Here, people believe they are too “free” to do as they please. It’s quite disheartening and selfish. I fear not a large enough part of the population takes this seriously unless you are in a major city or hard hit area here. Great post, thanks for sharing my friend😊

  • anaelleamaya

    Is it still going on there, Nimue? Our country has already released some quarantine rules.👍 And I am thinking the same way than you 😌 Isolation has brought very big problems also 🤔 Our parents and relatives, friends need us more during the quarantine than ever ❤️ I wish you are doing better (?) I have slept only 3 hours and were shopping (food mainly). I had to wake up at 03:00. The risk -group (who has asthma, or some chronic illness are allowed (and advised) to go shopping always early in the morning 07:00 – 08:00 is meant to keep us safe. Have a lovely day 🌺 I have to eat and then go to take a nap 😴 + 😻 = my medicine today.

  • Sheila Murrey

    Staying connected and getting fresh air and exercise are vital to health. Beautiful! ❤️🦋🌀☀️🌱

  • Brendan Birth

    Thanks for this take on mental health and the lockdown. I’m hopeful that we’re heading in the direction you think is best (and is probably best)–protecting the close relationships and preventing the gatherings with large groups of strangers. It seems like the widespread use of masks will provide us with a gateway to said approach (protecting close relationships, at least).

  • Teacher Camille

    I agree with you, very well said. My heart goes to those who are unnoticed to in the society. Also, you’re right. It’s kinda creeping in my nerves now that we’re still on lockdown. It’s hard I can’t even sleep at night.

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