COLUMN: A word of thanks to the other frontline workers

COLUMN: A word of thanks to the other frontline workers

Mental health professionals helping deal with emotional fallout of a global pandemic

With last week’s announcement of a slow and deliberate move toward more relaxed restrictions in B.C., is the end of our collective COVID-19 lockdown finally in sight?

Probably not, but at least we know that it’s somewhere over the horizon and that knowledge, in itself, is enough lift a few spirits.

And not a moment too soon.

What started out as not exactly an exciting chapter of human history, but certainly one that has given us all something to talk about for hours over the phone, is wearing thin.

It’s been more than two months since the detection of the coronavirus in B.C. spurred us all into inaction.

We set out to tackle it with grit, determination and a Netflix subscription. We’ve done what was asked of us for the greater good, repeatedly thanked the people on the front lines for allowing us to safely do our part (nothing) and reminded ourselves and others that we’re all in this together.

Dealing with the fallout of a global pandemic hasn’t been easy for people in the best of circumstances, but for those currently without employment, or whose age or health make them particularly vulnerable or even for people who live alone, the isolation and inactivity can have a profound negative effect on the psyche.

Humanity has been through this before – just not the specific humans who are going through it now. Or very few of them at least, since it’s been 100 years since the last major pandemic spread around the globe.

We’re asked daily to be calm and be kind and my experience, for the most part, is that people are going out of their way to treat others with respect even as we cut one another a wide swath on the sidewalk or in the narrow aisles of the grocery store.

READ ALSO: B.C.’s mental health minister reminds Surrey there’s ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

This lack of interaction is, in and of itself, a part of the problem.

We are social beings and for people who live alone and are either working from home or not currently employed, the isolation can weigh heavily. For people who already suffer from depression or anxiety, I’d imagine the effects are multiplied many times over.

For others, being confined with a specific group of people simply because you happen to be related might not be much better.

Add financial insecurity to the equation and, in some homes, it takes only a small spark to light a fuse on a virtual powder keg. We’re told that incidents of domestic violence and physical and sexual abuse, against adults and children alike, are on the rise behind closed doors. That’s devastating to think about in the abstract – so imagine experiencing it first-hand.

And then there are the overt and very public outbursts, including a recent incident in which a man walked up to a woman and punched her in the face in an unprovoked attack – just the latest of several targeted at Asians in the Lower Mainland over the past few months.

The mental health of the perpetrators is, of course, in question. Clearly, they need help.

In fact, lot of people need help right now and, luckily, in many – though by no means all – cases, they’re quietly getting it.

READ ALSO: B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s been pointed out that while we regularly thank the frontline health care workers – doctors and nurses and other medical technicians – we’ve been somewhat less vocal in our support of mental health professionals.

These are the people who have been busy behind the scenes, connecting over the phone or by video chat, doing the invaluable work of helping those who are willing and able to reach out.

As insidious as this virus is in the toll it’s taking on patients’ physical health, this is measurable data. We can see it, count it and in some ways, make sense of it.

But the immediate and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental and emotional health of a far greater number of people will be much harder to quantify. These figures can’t be neatly wrapped up in a daily briefing.

It’s going to take an unknown toll on an unknown number of people for an unknown length of the time.

Long after the physical danger of COVID-19 has passed and the clanging pans and musical salutes have faded, mental health care workers will still be hard at work on the front lines. They deserve our thanks, too. And they have it.

Brenda Anderson is editor of the Peace Arch News.



brenda.anderson@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ColumnCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

It remains to be seen how tourism dollars announced this week will help in White Rock. (Sterling Cunningham file photo)
White Rock officials question if tourism relief will come soon enough

For business, budget ‘feels more like a placeholder,’ says chamber head

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
South Surrey, White Rock MLAs call Tuesday’s provincial budget ‘disappointing’

MLAs Stephanie Cadieux and Trevor Halford say residents are getting less for more

Memorial for Travis Selje on 64th Avenue in Cloverdale, west of 176th Street. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Epilepsy-defence driver found not guilty in crash that killed Surrey teen Travis Selje

Accused testified she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision

(File photo)
Three young girls followed while walking home from school, Surrey police say

RCMP say suspect took off after girls went into nearby store for help

Black smoke rises above Highway 17 in Surrey on Thursday. (Fraser Valley Road Report Facebook)
Fire sends thick black smoke above Surrey industrial area

Firefighters say blaze burning just off of Tannery Road and Highway 17 in Surrey

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Firefighters carry equipment from the scene of Monday’s Willoughby fire. The April 19, 2021 blaze turned the Alexander Square development at the corner of 208th Street and 80th Avenue to rubble. (Rob Wilton/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley Fire: The aftermath of the inferno

The scene remains active as investigators work to determine a cause

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read