Lockdown and mental health

Like many people I’ve been struggling this year. Lockdown and COVID restrictions have been hellish for many people’s mental health.

The promise of lockdown was that it was a necessary evil: we did it to save the NHS and to buy time to create an effective contact tracing system. That time was squandered, and England is about to go into lockdown again.

This, by Owen Jones for The Guardian, is very good.

This is purgatory, a barren parody of real life. We’re living in monochrome, an existence bedevilled by tedium, stripped of spontaneity, robbed of little joys but defined by ever greater stresses. This relentless assault on our wellbeing will only intensify: those left fearing for their imperilled jobs in a nation with a shredded safety net in place of a welfare state; the young being deprived of their best days; the old, denied the dignity and support they deserve in their later years; the millions who were already struggling with their mental health even before the old world collapsed; those imprisoned with domestic abusers, or LGBTQ people locked away with bigoted relatives.

This is a conversation we need to have. As things stand, talk of the mental impact of the world’s greatest crisis for three quarters of a century has been monopolised by corona deniers and anti-lockdown agitators.

Being sad and lonely is clearly lesser than being dead, or causing the deaths of other people. But nevertheless the damage to people’s mental health is much more important and will cause much more misery than the damage to corporations’ profits. To date the UK government has been much more concerned with the latter.

the deprivation of our liberty was not supposed to be an endless cycle of outbreaks and national lockdowns; it was to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed so it could continue to function, to stop needless deaths and to buy time to establish a functioning test and trace system. Its failure means our mental wellbeing has been needlessly tossed on a bonfire – not because of partying youngsters but because of a government that relied on shambolic private contractors and sought to put the economy ahead of human life, with terrible consequences for both.

I’ve written before that while our COVID death toll is already in the tens of thousands, others are in the low single digits: Vietnam, which has a long land border with and extensive travel to and from China, has had just 35 deaths. Vietnam took COVID seriously. Here, we bribed people to go to Wetherspoons.



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