I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
There Are Only So Many Knots You Can Put In The Rope To Keep Hanging On
COVID-19 And Lockdown: Kids Are Completely Done
In writing this blog, I want to start by acknowledging that there are kids who are quite happily attending school from home and who have coped magnificently well with this pandemic. However, there are many more that are struggling and who need support because this is too much now.
We've heard the word "lockdown" almost daily. We're choking on the word "pandemic" and Zoom or Meet or Microsoft Teams anything? Please. If I have to attend another digital meeting on any platform when this is done, I'll run so fast the other way you won't see me for dust.
Now imagine you're a preteen or teenager trying to deal with this pandemic. We're a year in. There have been no school sports, no school clubs, and anything you've been involved in previously looks so different now you're struggling to have any sort of enthusiasm for it. There are also many teens who are front-line workers, in that they are working at a grocery store, a drug store, or something of that nature. Some may have lost their jobs as a result of lockdowns, or they might be the sole source of income for the family if the parents have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Further to that, these are individuals in the midst of puberty, who are designed by their very nature to socialize to one extent or another, and they are being restricted from socializing directly with each other. There aren't supposed to be hugs, high fives, or close contacts of any sort, and many of their contacts with friends are through digital means, which is so far outside the realm of what's "normal" for any of us that it's taken its toll.
You can't take beings who are generally designed to be social and to interact with people and then force isolation on them for such a long period of time and expect them to feel mentally and physically healthy. You can't keep locking them down and expect them to thrive.
While masking has posed some challenges, particularly for those individuals who are hard of hearing, we've all become used to wearing a mask. Granted, there are those individuals who have medical exemptions from mask-wearing, but for the most part, a good chunk of the population has become somewhat comfortable with regularly wearing a face mask and carrying one at all times. Ongoing lockdowns, however, are another matter. While I grant there are introverted individuals in the world who are actually somewhat content to be homebodies, liking your own company and being required to spend extended amounts of time in your own home with strong suggestions that you stay there isn't particularly healthy.
Doctors warned us when we were in the summer months of 2020 that the winter of 2020 was likely not going to be any degree of fun. That did sort of make sense, in that Canadian winters are typically quite cold, and given cold and flu season was still of concern, there were natural concerns that we'd be fighting several viruses instead of just COVID-19. There's also the fact that not everyone is a skier or skater, so people would likely not be as active, thereby contributing to a potential decline in individual mental health.
Well, we've reached that point now, and while adults are struggling, kids are very definitely paying the price. Calls to Kids Help Phone have exponentially increased, having nearly doubled from 2019's figure of 1.9 million calls, texts and chats to 4 million in 2020, according to the Star. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada's Policy Brief entitled, "COVID-19 and Suicide: Potential Implications and Opportunities to Influence Trends in Canada," suicidal ideation has increased in the face of the increased anxiety individuals have been feeling as a result of the pandemic.
"Early findings from national surveys show that people in Canada are experiencing more anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and that a higher number are reporting suicidal thoughts and/or behaviours," the brief states.
There have been rumblings that kids in school are also dealing with suicidal ideation, depression and anxiety for a range of reasons including the pandemic. Certainly, COVID-19 may only be making those feelings worse, and a lockdown that removes potential ways of managing mental health challenges is certainly not going to help.
There has to be a way, somehow, of controlling this virus while those of us over the age of 16 are waiting for a vaccine. Lockdown after lockdown will only bring upon us a mental health crisis, and I fear we are already there.