The PM raised an important red flag last week while explaining why restrictions hadn’t been tightened during the recent Emancipendence holiday weekend—national fatigue:
Now, some will not like it that this may be an honest assessment of a real and serious national health issue that needs to be balanced alongside other more-recent health concerns. Some may also say that the acceptance of the need for some R and R should have come with a set of warnings or reminders to people that this should not be an excuse for a mass letting down of the national guard with respect to preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Maybe, it was a sign of naïveté to not do this, given what’s known about the national tendency to ‘let go’.
But, physical and mental health concerns have been high during the pandemic and will remain so while it continues with little sign of easing or ending.
Global concerns are reflected in two recent articles in the UK medical journal, The Lancet, ‘Mental health before and during the COVID-19 pandemic’ and ‘How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic’:
The summary of the latter is clear: ‘The unpredictability and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic; the associated lockdowns, physical distancing, and other containment strategies; and the resulting economic breakdown could increase the risk of mental health problems and exacerbate health inequalities.‘
Regional level concerns are high, with a focus on the need for wider and better mental health services.
PAHO Director, Carissa Etienne said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a mental health crisis in our region at a scale we’ve never seen before. It’s a perfect storm in every country, as we see growing needs and reduced resources to address them. It is urgent that mental health support is considered a critical component of the pandemic response.” It’s noteworthy that concerns are not just for the general population, but also for the health sector workers, who are now close to burn out, after months of being on the front line of dealing with the pandemic.
Jamaica and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) offered training during June-July: ‘The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information in Jamaica to skill up [sic] a cohort of trainers in mental health literacy, to address an expected increase in metal health needs of secondary aged school children due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.‘
My wife has been working long hours from home during the pandemic and is mentally exhausted from strings of online meetings and discussions, even though she may be physically better off from not having to do lots of air travel or drive around to meetings as she used to. She’s able to manage her time better and that includes getting a lot more physical exercise by playing tennis.
My daughter had a couple of months of online school and she found it exhausting, needing different skills of concentration and missing certain physical interactions that make learning easier for her. She was glad when these sessions ended, and is looking forward to ‘real’ school in the fall, even with the real health risks still present.
But, we’re lucky to live in Jamaica, with its wonderful places to visit and relax and that we can make use of these opportunities. We’ve taken two week-long breaks—staycations—with some friends and relatives and been the better for it. We’ve had to adjust to the realities of living with COVID-19, whether it’s physical distancing, including with unrelated people being separated for meals, sanitizing, etc
We’re thankful for those blessings and hope our sanity is the better for them.