Letter: Pandemic Threatens
Our Mental Health, Too

Mar 22, 2020

As our attentions and anxieties are being alerted by the physical challenges of COVID-19 and as we institute practices of social isolation and distancing to mitigate its spread, let us be just as mindful of the added challenges this will bring for our health and well-being.

Community and connection are essential for human thriving. Social connectedness, belonging and community are essential for supporting health and well-being, especially during times of disruption and stress. And, as social beings, our physical health is influenced significantly by the quality of our social connectedness.

Let us be mindful of the millions of individuals who cope with mental illnesses and/or increased stress. The skyrocketing rates of depression, anxiety and loneliness in populations around the world may be construed as a mental health pandemic.

Let us be mindful of the millions of individuals whom we marginalize in our society of inequities and in our systems of bias — individuals who are absent the privileges that allow seeking support resources, medical care or telecommuting.

We can make a difference by deliberately extending ourselves — in community — to each other, albeit virtually or at appropriate physical distance. Public health measures for interrupting a viral pandemic can be powerfully combined with public health measures for interrupting a mental health pandemic.

Heightened practice of community, compassion and humanity will not only lessen the negative impacts of this time of crisis, it will also do wonders for patching our frayed social fabric and advancing well-being for all.

Beth Paul, president of Capital University, Bexley

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