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27/10/2021

OPINION: The suddenness of Covid-19 was and still remains a shock to many people

Cathal O'Reilly writing in this week's Nationalist

Concern grows as Louth Covid-19 incidence rate rises

Coronavirus Covid-19

It has been a rough year by all accounts however there is light at the end of the tunnel.

One may wonder what the mental health fallout will be from Covid-19 and it is definitely a cause for concern as there has been grief, loneliness and drastic life changes for many - there really are too many to list and I would be reluctant in making an exhaustive list for fear of leaving certain issues out.

I would like to shed some light on the positive aspects in the lifting of restrictions. Certainly, there will be much more socialising now which will be positive for overall mental health and particularly for younger people.

The suddenness of Covid-19 was and still remains a shock to many people however for the younger generation, not being able to meet friends and go out and enjoy one’s self has been a disaster and has impacted mental health.

I do feel that whatever way we look at things - the lifting of restrictions will be great for the community as younger people can meet friends, engage in group activities such as sport and feel less pressure overall in that there is now a sense of freedom looming with the rollout of the vaccines.

For the older generation there are similar positives to be seen from a mental health perspective. Again, the social aspect being a major turning point which we all hope will continue.

Community engagement will also lift spirits as well as being able to travel with the family and get a much deserved holiday, albeit within the country.

For the elderly, isolation will now begin to lift. Many elderly people, the most vulnerable to Covid-19, will begin to be able to socialise and meet family and friends again as well as engage in local activities where there may be a gathering.

Overall, it is positive however I would suggest, as there is an “easing” of restrictions that we also “ease” ourselves back into normal life to safeguard against being overwhelmed, exhausted and/or burnt out.

Although, of course, the temptation exists to do everything all at once, from a mental health standpoint, I personally would advocate an “easing” back into normal life again.

At the same time, this is not a major concern as of yet but time will tell. I would strongly advocate for getting out and meeting people where possible as human beings are social animals and the need for socialising for positive mental health has become apparent in mental health research, particularly recently.

It is important to mention that people who have never had any mental health difficulty in their lives, may now be dealing with issues that have been directly and indirectly brought on by the pandemic.

It is important to keep a close eye on family and friends whilst showing empathy, understanding and compassion.

Even though we may believe that we all experienced this pandemic in the same way, that is not the case. Our everyday experiences of the same things have depth in complexity and majorly differ and the same is to be said for how each individual has managed and navigated the pandemic in their own lives.

For some people it has had devastating and long lasting effects. For others, it may seem from the outside that they are coping much better due to their circumstances however to presume so, would of course be slightly naive.

We owe it to ourselves and each other to congratulate and celebrate how far we have come.

Although, of course, many people are still grieving at the loss of loved ones as a result of the pandemic and that will take time to heal from and to adjust to a different way of life and things won’t be the same without those who we hold so precious in our lives.

Overall, we can’t let a culture of “brushing things under the carpet” evolve or manifest into the psyche of each generation now as we enter a new phase with the pandemic.

Most people will want to forget about it and move on and put Covid-19 behind us, however the traumatic effect of a pandemic will be felt for years to come whether it goes acknowledged or not.

We battle this culture by talking about how the pandemic has affected each one of us as well as listening to other people’s experiences.

While things will need to “move on” from an economic perspective we must realise that human beings are much more complex and will need a great deal of sensitivity with how we broach our recovery both from an individual and collective standpoint.

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