First written August 2020
Working from home, I’ve used a notebook to keep track of work. Last Thursday marked 500 days since lockdown on 23 March 2020.
I recognise the trajectory of emotions in this graph. Others’ experiences may well be different from this depiction. The graph reflects common experiences following a single event and, of course, coronavirus is not a single event so the graph for this would be much more complex.
As a population, our experience and wellbeing is diverse, with people experiencing varying degrees of psychosocial distress.
Like any community, we are constantly identifying, assessing and responding to the needs of individuals and groups, then working out how these people are best supported.
Researching for the Social Prescribing course, there’s overwhelming evidence that, far from being a ‘leveller’, coronavirus really does exacerbate inequalities. If you have the skills, resources, opportunities and tools to ‘bounce back’, you’re in a very different position from someone who doesn’t. Living in the leafy suburbs of Sheffield, there’s so much in my various communities that I can draw on to boost my resilience.
It’s becoming apparent to me how easy it is to leave others behind. This is not just a social class, gendered, ethnicity, sexuality and postcode thing, though these are crucial factors in someone’s resilience. Mental health cuts across all of these, as does family connection and employment. As the King’s Fund article (below) says, “focusing the recovery effort on communities that experience inequalities can not only aid the process of recovery but, by making communities more resilient, help ensure that they are better placed to cope when the next challenge arises.” [my emphasis]
Why am I writing this? Because we, the P6 community, need to be “better placed to cope when the next challenge arises”. Project 6 is working with some of the people who have been most traumatically impacted by coronavirus and this work is stressful.
Secondary stress (resulting from witnessing others’ distress) can manifest as distress in us, low mood, anxiety and fear, sleeplessness, disassociation, tearfulness or ‘unfathomable’ weeping, head in the sand, battling on with some Churchillian Dunkirk hero spirit, antipathy, guardedness, dismissal of others, imperviousness, hard-shelled emotional absence, disconnection, frustration, self-harm, increased substance use, anger, hostility, scapegoating (on family and friends, say)… the list goes on.
As the article says, “during the early months of recovery most will not seek formal help and many will generally not reach the threshold for accessing specialist mental health services, leaving some people at significant risk of not getting the support they need. In the long term, if left unaddressed, these anxieties can escalate into more serious situations requiring specialist support and significantly increase demand for mental health services.” [my emphasis]
Those diverse communities are best served when P6 is healthy and thriving, when you are fine and dandy. You owe it to yourself and to the people around you. To survive, perhaps to grow and thrive, to support others in the gamut of life’s possibilities (from just getting by through to living a rich, meaningful and purposeful life), and to continue reducing the inequalities in society, your wellbeing matters above all.
So, my questions to you are, to make it to 1000 days +, what do you need and what will be the signs that those needs are being met?
Be well. Warm wishes.
If you’re interested in reading more, I have taken the images and some ideas from the King’s Fund’s article here: