Are we ready to address the emotional wellbeing of our society?
November 15, 2020 Comment No Comments

O
ver the last week we’ve seen news about the roll-out of a mass rapid testing trial in Liverpool, and news that a vaccine for Covid-19 was imminent. We should, understandably, celebrate the hope that these things might signify that the beginning of the end of this pandemic may be on the horizon.

But this week the UK also reached the grim milestone of 50,000 (official) covid-19 deaths. It made a headline for a day as though this was of passing significance and interest. Quickly the focus has moved on to other more important headlines such as Dominic Cummins departure from No.10.

Am I alone in thinking we are missing something in terms of our national priorities?

Hope, tinged with deep concerns

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am (like millions of. others) hopeful for the future with a vaccine and effective mass testing now looking a reality, but I also have some deep concerns that have been highlighted this week.

My deep concerns are not about the current battle to protect us against Covid-19, I have faith that science and human ingenuity will mean that eventually, we beat the virus. Economically, it is a terrible time. But economic collapse has happened before, and the economy will recover.

Where my deep concerns start is whether we will collectively be prepared to do what will be needed to address the cost of this pandemic at a humanitarian level?
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We are, I believe, currently failing in our support of people in need at an emotional and mental wellbeing level. During this Pandemic, the focus has been on protecting people physically, protecting the NHS, and protecting Jobs. There has been little ongoing collective focus in the UK on the emotional and mental wellbeing of people.

Clap-for-carers is gone, Covid-19 infection and death rates are reported just as statistics that we can become numb to, and publicly supporting the bereaved and those impacted by lockdown seems to have been turned into a political issue rather than a humanitarian one.
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But maybe things will change now we have hope that we can end the pandemic. For instance, throughout this pandemic care, home residents have been kept as virtual prisoners and their husbands, wives, and close family are forcibly separated from them – causing immense emotional suffering. Thankfully, with a pilot programme just started this inhuman situation may be coming to an end.

There are however many other areas that we still need to address as a society at a humanitarian level. NHS waiting lists are at a record high, causing ongoing physical and emotional suffering for patients including 300k ‘long-covid’ victims. Millions are suffering emotionally with loneliness and isolation, poverty is increasing, and the education of an entire generation is being affected. These are only a few of the examples where many in our society are suffering and need our help today, and will need help even more as we begin a recovery.

It could be argued that the priority in any pandemic must be to protect people physically (rather than emotionally) and to stop the virus spreading. But, does that excuse us from at least acknowledging collectively that we have lost so many people and supporting the bereaved in a manner befitting a civilised nation? That question is my key concern today.

Focusing on our collective emotional recovery

Today, as we see a glimpse of future recovery, we have an opportunity to act, to remember the loved ones lost, to support the bereaved, and demonstrate our compassion towards those whose lives have been impacted because of Covid-19.
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Grasping and supporting this opportunity is critical if we are to address the collective emotional recovery of the UK. Failing to realise the importance as a nation of addressing collective emotional and mental wellness reflects badly on us all, and stores up social problems for the future.

We have not, as a nation, spent one single moment to collectively stop and give our respects to the 72,300 people who have died who should not have done in the last 9 months. Yes, 72,300 is the excess deaths figure in the UK this year that can be attributed to the impact of this pandemic.

Other nations, such as Spain, have held vigils and national periods of silence to respect their dead. The UK has done nothing. We must all change that!

We have so far failed as a nation in our collective support for the bereaved. As part of a national healing process any decent society would seek to rectify this.
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An opportunity for all of us today is to make a commitment that we will play our part in the recovery of our nation and not just leave it to others to be concerned with. This means, as a start, taking action to demonstrate our personal support for the bereaved and for everyone struggling to cope during this national emergency.

After the 2nd World War society committed to remembering the military and civilian fallen. They committed to support people in need, and to build a better world together. Our war may have been against an invisible virus, but none the less a war we have faced together. Now is the time to face the recovery together for our sake and the sake of the next generation, just as people did for us in 1945.

If we fail in our duty to do this, then we will be failing as a civilised nation to take the actions we must take to ensure we heal as a society, and we will be storing up major unresolved emotional problems for the future that will eventually impact us all.

International Memorial Day

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On the 1st January 2021 an international period of remembrance will be held to remember all of the loved ones around the world that have been lost because of Covid-19. Please support this initiative. We will give full details on how you can do that in the next week, but you can also follow this campaign on Twitter.

The Forest of Memories

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The vision for the Forest of Memories is that they will be a place of remembrance and a symbol of national recovery when the first one is opened in 2021. Whilst the short-term goal however is one of remembrance, the Forests will become an educational and cultural resource for local communities that attracts visitors from around the UK and internationally, while also creating jobs.

You can learn more about the Forest Plans here. Please give your support to this project, follow us, and spread the word so we can ensure the forest is a shared symbol of remembrance, support for those in need, and of national recovery.

Written by Robert Streeter