It’s good to talk especially with a looming lockdown
Washed Up column, by Sarah Juggins, Tuesday, October 27, 2020
As the country lurches towards different levels of lockdown, we are lucky here in Norfolk to be in a situation where we are suffering lower than average levels of infection.
It is clearly important that we keep observing social distance rules and wear face masks whenever required.
However, it is also important that we consider another factor that has become increasingly highlighted during the past 10 torrid months – mental health within the community.
As the rules around socialising become ever tighter, it is more important than ever to make sure that people stay connected within the community.
There is a danger that, this time around, the elderly, the vulnerable and the socially-distanced will be left behind or forgotten.
As the majority of the population get their heads around the new normal, and social interaction via platforms such as Zoom, Teams and the plethora of other communication tools, becomes our way of staying in contact, we have to remember that not everyone is able to do the same.
Across our local community there are thousands of people who do not have access to the internet. Having a catch-up call with relatives or friends in other parts of the country is just not an option. These people are at real risk of suffering mental health issues brought on purely by loneliness.
But it is more than that. Even among those people who can keep in contact with family and friends over the internet or phone, there still lurks the danger of anxiety brought on by a lack of physical contact with others.
For people working at home, for people who are shielding, for people who are furloughed – the simple act of popping out to see friends or having a coffee with colleagues is not always an option.
We are social beings and this type of interaction is important. If you are stuck at home for most of the time, you need fresh stimulus from time to time, talking through your worries with an empathetic friend, discussing the news and its implications, just having a laugh at some absurdity in the media – these are ways that we lighten our own mental load.
These really are challenging times and it is difficult sometimes to know what is the right thing to do, but finding a way to chat to others, be it a socially distanced coffee, a walk with a friend or an over-the-fence conversation with the neighbour, that is one way to keeping a bit of stimulus and cheer in all our lives.