Thomas makes a good point here, and it’s a similar thought to one I’ve had about what appears to be a lessening of stigma around mental health.
This declined suicide rate may seem confusing because it’s obvious that people all over the world have experienced heightened levels of poverty, chaos, fear, restlessness, uncertainty and plenty of other stressors. However, some very important variables have been eliminated during COVID. The first is that no one is taking this pandemic personally. No one feels like these terrible living conditions are their own fault. Instead, there is a collective pain, and collective pain can make problems more tolerable. That’s why we love divulging our struggles to others in exchange for compassion and support.
The truth is we’ve all been living through one of the most uncertain, and terrible, times that many of us have ever experienced, all at the same time. Saying that you’ve been struggling with all of it doesn’t really raise any eyebrows, we all nod in agreement and share our own struggles. The stigma, the isolation, the fear of talking about it, is gone.
But, what happens when it’s no longer a pandemic, and someone is still struggling? Does the stigma come back? Do the “what do you have to be depressed about?” questions start back up, does the fear of not belonging, of not being enough, come back?
I hope not, but like the article below, I’m not celebrating right now. It’ll be too easy to lose sight of the work that remains, including removing the stigma surrounding other mental health issues beyond the anxiety and depression many are reporting now.
On the other hand, aren’t there lessons we can take from this situation? Like how much of an effect we can have when we support each other, take extra steps to stay connected, to listen and support people when they are struggling, etc.
I’d like to take those lessons forward. What lessons will you take forward?