The deadly pandemic has changed the way we live for everyone all around the world. Almost everything has moved to online solutions while our economies are facing huge losses, many people’s loved ones have lost their lives, and it still does not seem to end. The creation of the vaccine has given us a new hope that the end of this nightmare might be near. In face of such huge difficulties, people are experiencing mental health difficulties. This is deepened by the social distancing requirements set by each country’s government. Social distancing brings huge benefits in these challenging times, however, it has been the cause of psychological distresses that people have been experiencing all around the world.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is a practice that involves keeping a certain distance from other people to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This also means that people are not allowed to join groups larger than a certain number of people that are determined by the governments of the countries. Currently, almost every country in the world is calling upon its people to practice social distancing. These are regulated through different rules and laws. In most countries, the failure to comply with these rules is resulting in fees and other similar punishments.
According to World Health Organization, the virus spreads through physical contact which is the main thing to prevent when we social distance. We also wear masks to further minimize the risk of getting the virus or transmitting it. Other similar terms as social distancing are mandatory quarantine and self-quarantine. The first one is when you have to isolate as per government regulations for a certain number of days (usually 14 days). The latter one is when you simply isolate yourself since you suspect that you have been in contact with an infected person. To make sure, you have to isolate and protect yourself and others from the risk of getting the virus.
Why are we doing this? This has been the best available solution for the current situation. Governments have been trying to prevent the spread of the virus so that the health care of the countries does not get overwhelmed. Additionally, there have been vulnerable groups in face of the virus such as elderly people, people with autoimmune diseases, and many similar others. So, until we all get the vaccine that will make us immune to the virus, this is the best thing we can practice right now.
Effects on Mental Health
Very few studies have been published to confirm the effects of social distancing and quarantine on people’s mental health. However, social media has been a useful medium where people got to share their mental health challenges. Although there was a small portion of the population who did this, it still shows that a lot of people have been struggling.
From the few studies that have been done, respondents showed that social distancing has increased fear, anxiety, and depression symptoms. Many people reported feeling isolated and insecure about the present and the future. The uncertainty that this pandemic brought made people anxious concerning the future. Apart from social distancing, the fear for your own health and your loved ones’ health also negatively impact people’s mental health.
What are we going to do? Well, the biggest challenge right now is to distribute the vaccine that will help us go through this pandemic. However, the pandemic will leave us consequences for a very long time that we will have to deal with. Such consequences will be the economic ones but also mental health ones. People with mental health difficulties will have to deal with them by seeking mental health services after the pandemic.