Over the last few weeks, the news has shifted from being almost entirely about COVID-19 to instead covering the protests that have sprung up across the country and around the world in response to George Floyd, and the many others, who have lost their lives at the hands of police action. And it is important to cover these protests, as the fight for equality is a worthy one. However, even before the news shifted, far too little attention was being paid to the mental health crisis that COVID-19 was creating. And it is essential that as we fight for progress, we not leave anyone behind.
I say this because of several reports that did filter through the noise of our constant news cycle, news reports I only saw because I went looking for them.
The first of those reports discussed how millennials, a generation that already struggles with isolation, may be struggling more than ever now. Indeed, despite the adeptitude of millennials at staying in touch via social media, human contact has always been a necessity. Even for someone like me, a socially anxious introvert who would have thought that staying at home all the time was ideal, excursions into the outside world are health in beneficial.
The second report was of a wounded veteran, one who had spoken out about the dangers of PTSD, who was recently loss to suicide. As the article notes, his death won’t be counted with the COVID-19 numbers, but the isolation caused by COVID almost certainly contributed to his death. The article further notes that calls to the Veterans Crisis Hotline are up about 10 percent since the pandemic started.
I started this post by saying that we couldn’t leave anyone behind. And we can’t. We cannot ignore the mental health crisis of this pandemic any longer. And because of the way that our 24 hour news cycle works, we shouldn’t have to. Many news stations maintain side panels and news feeds along the sides and bottom of the screen. Some stations keep the COVID-19 numbers up almost 24-7. So why couldn’t they simply add the crisis hotline numbers to the screen. And even if they don’t have additional information scrolling along the sides of bottom of the screen, they could be sure to mention the number often during their reporting.
Additionally, we need a suicide nuber that is as easy to remember as 911, but that summons mental health crisis workers instead of police, who are often ill-equipped for mental health emergencies.
We should not stop talking about the protests or about COVID, we should just make sure that we are also talking about the mental health crisis these stories are causing. And we must make sure that we are not leaving people behind as we fight for health and equality.
And as always, thanks for reading.