There is a parallel rate of infection happening as we move through the global pandemic caused by coronavirus. Moving along one line is the infection rate arising from the virus and also alarmingly, is a shadow line indicating the mental infection in the population from fear and anxiety. The fallout is enormous.
Being denied basic rights such as freedom of movement and a job to earn a living causes a restless and potentially eruptive energy in the general population. Lock downs around the world are in place because there is no known way to immunise or treat covid-19. However, there have been several warnings, since the SARS virus in 2002, of a serious threat to the global community should another coronavirus make the leap from animals to humans.
According to the World Health Organisation, one person dies every 40 seconds from suicide. Several governments across the world say they are committed to improving mental health and reducing the number of deaths from suicide. Yet, these are the countries who ignored the World Health Organisation’s warning about another coronavirus pandemic, failing to put in place a contingency plan. When the prediction finally materialised as covid-19, their only response, given the lack of planning, was to enforce national lock downs. While this is proving to slow the rate of viral infection, it adds to the anxiety and stress of the population, particularly the most vulnerable. Even the mentally robust individual is wilting under the hot house of social distancing and being shut off from their loved ones living in other households.
The tide of coronavirus came like a massive tsunami across the world making it too late to run for cover. The measures being taken to stop the spread of the virus are having severe impacts on the most vulnerable sections of society, the elderly and those with mental health issues. So while we receive death tolls as graphs on a page, each life that adds to that line is someone’s wife, father, mother, son.
The invisible line that shadows the death from covid-19 is the rate of deaths from suicide. The child who can’t take another moment of being cooped up with his abusive parent, the young girl who is continually sexually abused by the man who is meant to protect her. The husband who slips further into despair as his wife hurls verbal abuse at his inadequacies, or the woman who uses make-up to hide her black eye from her children.
There are many questions to be asked about the inadequate preparation for a global pandemic, but more importantly we have a question to ask ourselves, individually and nationally; Can we continue to ignore our mental health and well being? We must invest, not just money, but time and effort into mindfulness, inner peace and meditation. Spend a few moments on conscious breathing. The more we watch our breathing, the deeper it becomes. Feel gratitude for this simple process that keeps us alive. Our immune system depends on it. Our well being depends upon it. We never know how much we depend on something until it is taken away, in some cases we find new ways to adapt. But that is not the case with breathing. There is no substitute for it, if we stop breathing we die.