COVID-19: Why educating yourself on the emotional impact of Coronavirus is so important
I am a worrier. I always have been. I worry about everything from driving on roads I don’t know to walking along and randomly being struck by lightning. I worry about what I would do, how I would handle it, what the worse case scenario would be and how likely it is to happen. One thing however, that in my 22 years of life I never once worried about, was being alive during a Global Pandemic. Honestly, I think it seemed that unlikely to happen, that it just never crossed my mind to worry about it.
That being said, I’m coping. I can’t say I’m coping well, nor am I coping dreadfully, but I’m coping. I have good days, bad days, and days in between, but through them all I am eternally grateful that my family and I are healthy.
Sadly, I know that I am in an incredibly fortunate situation. Everyone that I’ve spoken too has had a completely different experience of this pandemic. Some have suffered immensely with mental health, others have lost family members and loved ones and others have been ill themselves. It’s genuinely been a really scary period that no one had prepared for, and personally I don’t really know how to feel; I’m not entirely sure anyone does.
This post was inspired by a really amazing friend of mine, who goes above and beyond to care for others welfare and mental health. She recently sent me a course by Future Learn ‘COVID-19: Psychological First Aid’ and suggested I could look at the importance of understanding this in any career, not just in teaching.
I’ve linked the course below as honestly, it was incredible. It taught me so much about what to look out for in others, the signs of emotional distress, and key mental health triggers for all age groups. It also taught me how to cope with the immense psychological stress of a global pandemic (especially one that no one saw coming) and how to help others cope too.
The guidance this course gives you can be applied to helping anyone. It can definitely be adapted to speaking to grandparents over the phone and to having a beer with your mate who’s been a bit quiet on the group chat recently. For any teachers reading my blog, it also talks about understanding how to understand what children and teens are going through and how to be prepared when they re-enter the classroom.
Anyway, I will stop giving you all a summary of the course, but honestly I cannot recommend it enough. Not only has it helped me learn how to support others, but a lot of the advice is really helping me deal with (or try to deal with) this absolute rollercoaster of a year.
Everyone I know has experienced COVID-19 in a different way. I’ve seen people on Instagram, (normally while I’m laid in bed finishing a pack of biscuits), having incredible glow-up’s, getting fitter, learning a new skill, developing a business and everything in between. I’ve also had friends who’ve binged TV everyday and struggled to find the strength to get out of bed.
Honestly, I’ve been somewhere in the middle. I’ve had days that I’ve woken up at 6, blasted out a Courtney Black workout, eaten so healthily the Kardashians would be proud and been a new age Mary Berry in the kitchen. I have also had days where I’ve eaten the contents of the kitchen and only got out of bed for more supplies.
My point is: yes some people may be coming out of lockdown with 100 new skills and a 6 pack, and that is amazing and they should be so proud, but the fact you’re coming out of this pandemic full stop is an achievement. One that everyone should be endlessly proud of.
Now lockdown is beginning to ease, and people are starting to return to a new ‘normal’ way of life, the need for all generations to appreciate the emotional impact of this pandemic is critical. By no means am I saying we all need to understand how everyone is feeling, because to be honest, I don’t even understand how I’m feeling, so how can I expect others too. What we do need to understand is how to be there for each other.
For someone that doesn’t feel 100% comfortable going into a pub just yet, despite how much I’ve missed it, it has made the importance of good friends so crucial. Friends who get this and don’t just think you’re being dramatic.
Being there for each other at this time is more than just inviting your group-chat out, it’s also understanding if they don’t want to come and not shaming them for that. It’s going to see your relatives, even if that means sitting outside with a blanket because they’re not comfortable having someone in their house yet. It’s listening to people’s experiences of these past few months, letting people grieve, letting people cry to you, letting people feel anxious and just doing the best that you can to help them.
Mental health problems are at an all-time high at the moment and understandably so. In a survey carried out between the 6th of June and the 5th of July, YoungMinds asked 2,036 young people with a history of mental health needs about the pandemic. 80% of respondents agreed that the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse and 87% of respondents agreed that they had felt lonely or isolated during the lockdown period. (I have linked this study below for anyone interested!).
Although that study focuses on young people with prior mental health issues, the link between COVID-19 and a rise in emotional and mental stress is clear.
As we begin to take small steps out of this pandemic, we all need to focus on our own mental health and the mental health of those around us.
For some of us this might be putting ourselves first and checking in on our own mental health for a while, for others it might be ringing up that person you haven’t heard from recently and checking they’re doing okay. For those back at work it might be checking up on colleagues, paying closer attention to our students when schools restart or just simply focusing on getting yourself through the day.
However you are coping, we should all be so proud of ourselves for getting through this time no matter how many bumps we’ve had along the way. None of us saw it coming and we have all had our own battles to fight throughout it.
If you have time I would definitely recommend giving the course a go. I promise it’s super interesting and offers some amazing advice. I’ve also linked some numbers to call below if anyone is struggling at the moment and wants someone to talk to.
As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read this!
Stay safe everyone!