Have you seen any of those mental health related posts on social media lately? Something like this:
Mental health issues related to our lock down and the pandemic are especially hard for people with depression and other mental health disorders. Could any two of my Facebook friends just copy and repost to share the helpline far and wide? Just two. Any two. Say done.
My “friends” on social media appear to be quite keen on mindlessly repeating mental health posts like the above. And some have asked me to follow suit: “Could any two of my Facebook friends just copy and repost to share the helpline far and wide? Just two. Any two. Say done.” While taking to the comments seem to be the thing to do to share our thoughts (whether positive or otherwise), it doesn’t do much else in terms of expressing care or building a community.
Most people are one family member removed from someone with a mental issue of some sorts. Whatever was an issue for you before COVID-19 became magnified during the pandemic. Especially isolation and loneliness. COVID-19 turned out not to be the great equalizer we once thought it would be. It didn’t level the playing field. The people that were already suffering are now likely suffering even more.
Getting further into isolation
When I moved to Canada over a decade ago, one of the reasons (not the main one, but still) was that if anything bad ever were to happen, a country with enough space to have plenty of room for social distancing, seemed like a good place to live. There’s still places to hide up here in the Great White North. Canada has always had a level of social distancing built in, which even appealed to me before it became the “popular” thing to do during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And something really bad did happen at a global scale. From a practical standpoint it indeed made a lot of sense to be in a country were there’s less people per square kilometre than my Dutch mind could even begin to imagine. All of the Netherlands can fit in between the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, but people here typically don’t believe it’s physically possible to cram 17 million people (the population of the Netherlands) in between the two major cities in Alberta.
So from a practical standpoint it all makes a lot of sense. Even getting groceries delivered (same day) is easier here compared to what I hear from European based friends and family. And still, from an emotional and mental health perspective, I’ve never felt lonelier and further removed from everything that really matters. I’ve never felt more isolated with the ability to travel removed. And seeing the “national helpline” scroll by several times in my feed doesn’t help, but further underlines that problem.
The popularity of posts like this once again confirms what a lonely planet we have created using social media. Do you feel better after clicking like – or copying the mindless post to your own timeline? While the work many national helplines are doing to support those in distress is amazing and very necessary, it stings a little when “friends” just mindlessly refer you to that number. Is the national helpline doing your job as a friend?
Instead of referring your friends to the national helpline by copying a post once or twice, make a point of reaching out to one or two people you know, personally. Send a text message, postcard, or just give someone you care about a call. Never a better time than right now. Do it. Now. Please. You may just save a life.
Stay tuned for more from me on this topic as it’s time we end the stigma around mental health. When you share your story, it doesn’t just help gain clarity for yourself, but by opening up you can also help and impact many other people. Thanks for being part of my community. You are not alone. If there’s anything I can support you with please just get in touch.