There is no health without mental health
What is the impact of the Covid crisis on our mental health?
In Australia’s reaction to COVID-19, our lives are being changed profoundly and our liberties curtailed, without consultation by federal, state and territory governments. Few have yet fully grasped the gravity of the effects on our wellbeing, nor what is still to come. Every day counts!
Focusing on saving lives and livelihoods isn’t wrong, but there is no truly good health without good mental health. Given that humans are social beings, for most people good mental health requires positive social interaction and hope.
Our mobility, work, education, recreation, exercise and, most importantly, our interaction with others is being restricted by authorities. We have to follow the regulations or we face being punished for disobeying them. Right now, it feels as if our careers, dreams and futures are vanishing in front of our eyes.
The reality of home confinements strikes hard too. Imposing one-size-fits-all lockdowns, policy-makers don’t seem to understand that not everyone is lucky enough to have houses with yards, or happy relationships. Families and groups living and working in gardenless flats 24/7 breeds increased interpersonal tensions as well as domestic violence. Over two million people in single-person households risk greater isolation, loneliness and depression, particularly the elderly, while shut off from family and friends. Significant international research links loneliness to serious mental and physical health risks.
Almost 10 percent of quarantined hospital staff reported depressive symptoms of high levels and a study says that more than 28 percent of parents in quarantine reported trauma-related mental health disorders.
Dr Eli Somer, a clinical psychologist and Professor Emeritus at University of Haifa says, “Home confinement restricts freedom of movement and, therefore, is similar in some ways to involuntary hospitalization or imprisonment”.
People with existing mental health challenges, and those living with them, are finding confinement and surveillance all the more traumatic. Economic hardship and no end-date of home confinements and free movement will exacerbate this.