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

rcmp
South Surrey neighbours’ calls to police lead to break-and-enter arrest

‘Prime example’ of RCMP and public working together, constable says

Members of the Wheeling 8’s dance group go on a roll at Surrey’s Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre in 2018, during the club’s 45th-anniversary event. If not for the pandemic, such activities could be socially prescribed as part of a new program involving Fraser Health and DiverseCity Community Resources Society. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
‘Social prescriptions’ connect Surrey seniors to activities and other services they need

Fraser Health-backed program involves GP referrals to a Seniors’ Community Connector with DiverseCity

Linda Annis, Aug. 12, 2020. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Annis wants independent auditor general for Surrey

‘Surrey taxpayers deserve the best possible oversight of the tax dollars they send to city hall,’ Surrey councillor says

SkyTrain’s end of the line, for now, in Whalley. (File photo)
Provincial budget watchers lament no mention of Surrey SkyTrain expansion

But $1.66 billion is earmarked for a second hospital for Surrey, in Cloverdale

The Da Vinci Experience is scheduled to open at Tsawwassen Mills (5000 Canoe Pass Way) in June, with early bird tickets for shows July 15 to Aug. 15 on sale now. (Submitted photo)
‘Immersive art experience’ in Tsawwassen to showcase work of Leonardo Da Vinci

The Da Vinci Experience to open at Tsawwassen Mills in June, early-bird tickets on sale now

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Thousands have converged in Whonnock Lake Park to enjoy the nice weather. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)
Thousands enjoy B.C. park with warnings about social distancing

Portable toilets installed in anticipation of nice weather

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Playland at the PNE is set to reopen this May, with COVID-19 health and safety measures approved by the province. (Website/Playland)
VIDEO: Playland at PNE scheduled to reopen this May to masked customers

British Columbians are discouraged from travelling outside of their local health authority to visit the theme park

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Most Read