I’m not one to wade into hot button issues, but I feel like I need to speak up.
Barely a week goes by where I don’t hear a comment about how the COVID shutdown is doing more harm than the virus transmission problem it’s addressing.
Because of my field of work, most of the comments I see are ones that are centred on the untold damage we are doing to peoples’ mental health as a result of social distancing measures.
While I have virtually no authority to speak to issues of science or public policy outside of my own sphere, I feel like as a private practice clinician, I need to weigh in on that particular part of the discussion.
Has the extensive mental health damage caused by the pandemic outweighed the public health benefits of the global shutdown?
Bear in mind, this opinion is coming from …
Someone who comes from a two-income, small-business household who have seen our income decimated during the past year
Someone who has seen my kids’ lives, including potentially their educational futures, altered dramatically
And someone who has worked daily to help address peoples’ grave mental health problems in a private practice setting
The COVID shutdown has cost my family money, time, happiness and fulfillment.
On top of that, it has added worry, stress, financial hardship, and greatly affected our expectation level for the future.
And, let me be clear, it was the right thing to do.
Now, we can debate the ins and outs of how we could have shut down more precisely and effectively…but the shocking truth is that approximately 40 million people would have died from the virus worldwide had nothing been done to combat it.
The current number of deaths worldwide is right around 1.85 million.
Those numbers are staggering, but they don’t really ring true unless you are one of the people who has lost someone from COVID-19.
These are the people that I have interacted with.
I have listened to absolutely devastated individuals tell me about they were forced to spend agonizing final moments with a loved one … over Zoom … as a nameless, sometimes faceless, PSW held a phone to their anguished lips.
Think about that.
Think about it in terms of the money you’ve lost.
Or the trip you had to cancel.
Or the stress your kids have had to face.
All of these things are painful and tough to bear.
But none of them can possibly touch the anguish of a life cut short.
Deep down, we all know this. We know that saving lives needs to be our top priority.
But with that realignment has come the reality of the forced empathy which we’ve all been called upon to adopt.
To think of others.
To consider their needs.
To put them first.
Even if we can’t afford to, or simply don’t want to.
We have all made sacrifices during this pandemic. And some day very soon we will have the opportunity to look back on those collective sacrifices with a sense of pride.
Let’s look forward to that day … while staying safe at home … with love, grace, and empathy in our hearts.