IImagine your teen was a star athlete, on track for a varsity athletics scholarship. But then they develop prolonged Covid at the height of the pandemic, meaning they no longer had the lung capacity to walk, let alone live. If this was your experience, you feel the government didn’t do enough to protect children from COVID-19, or vaccinate them fast enough.
On the other hand, what if your child develops an eating disorder due to social isolation and depression? In that case, you might think that the lockdown measures were inconsistent. If you’ve lost a loved one to the disease, you may blame the government for doing too little. If your 20 year old small business takes off, you can blame the government for doing too much.
The point is that all our views on the pandemic, whether we are a teacher, pub owner, health worker or scientist, are colored by our personal experiences of this huge, global storm.
I was thinking about this in light of a new study that seeks to understand the impact of the pandemic on our mental health. latest British Medical Journal Systematic ReviewThe study, from a Canadian team of researchers, looked at more than 100 studies from around the world and concluded that the pandemic resulted in no major changes in general mental health and anxiety symptoms, and only minimal changes in depression. This led to headlines such as “Mental-health crisis from Covid pandemic was minimal,
What is needed here is subtlety. Only he can capture what has undoubtedly been a painful few years – in which millions have felt loss, anger and frustration. And that’s where the general studies on “everyone’s mental health” are misleading.
The pandemic did not affect everyone equally. Groups most affected include people with existing mental health conditions, children, people living with disabilities, adolescents and those without financial or social safety nets. The BMJ study highlights some of these groups and notes that the study did not capture the views of children. Children A universally difficult few years are faced during a formative period, whether through losing caregivers to the virus, through school closures, or exposure to abusive adults inside their homes.
The problem is that studies such as the BMJ are used either to argue that lockdowns have no significant effect on the mental health of populations (and therefore, are not as bad as predicted), or that by others It is argued that such research itself is wholly flawed. It doesn’t help us. Instead, we need to come together to discuss how we heal as a society and recognize that each person’s experience from 2020 to 2022 is heavily shaped by how they interpret what happened and Why did it happen?
It is not helpful to continue to argue about sanctions and closures by using such generalizing studies. The truth is that they were an extreme public health response, and they were only undertaken as public policy because of an even worse alternative facing countries of imminent (and real) healthcare collapse and mass death. No one is pro-lockdown; It was about being anti mass death. From 2020 to 2022, COVID-19 was a once-in-a-century pandemic most closely related to the 1918 flu pandemic, which included similar measures such as shutdowns and mask mandates.
What we should be thinking about is planning ahead for the next pandemic, be it avian flu or a new pathogen. How do we design platforms and solutions (testing, vaccines, treatments) to limit or avoid restrictions and closures altogether? Humans are social: we live longer when we have meaningful relationships and see others, and we have many studies showing that social isolation, especially for certain groups, has negative consequences. Understanding that should be our starting point for the future.