The COVID-19 quarantine has changed the habits of many. We used to be able to see friends and family who lived outside of our home anytime we wanted. We used to be able to take breaks from those we live with by going to work, going to the gym, going to therapy, going to class etc. The change in dynamic has had many implications on our mental health, wellness and safety.
Violence In the Home
The quarantine has forced many to be in close quarters with those they feel unsafe with for extended periods of time. On a typical virus-free day, when people return to their homes from work and running errands, the amount of time spent with the people you live with is only a few hours. Work, classes or a visit to family or friends offered relief before the pandemic, but now it’s more tricky. For those who have a healthy connection with those they live with, it’s no problem. But for those who fear abuse or worse, it can turn into something more life-threatening. The New York Times reports that there’s been “an uptick in reports from a wider array of survivors than usual: men who’ve been abused, youth who’ve been trafficked and people who’ve been hurt by non-romantic partners such as roommates.” This is in addition to domestic abuse women are facing from their partners.
Parents More Stressed Than Ever
For many who are used to working 9-5 and coming home to their children for a few hours before bedtime, are now having to work-from-home and care for their children 24/7. Schools offered a safe place for their children while they worked. Now parents are in a constant scramble to find childcare, and not just that, they’re having to pay for that care which has thrown a wrench in the budget of many working parents.
CBS Minnesota reports that a mother of 3 recently quit her job after she found it impossible to watch her children and work her usual 60-hour work week. This mom states that the stress from the pandemic has had an effect on the mental health of her children and herself: “with all the uncertainty out there I made a decision that our family’s health and happiness is way more important than my job, unfortunately. It was a really hard decision and it still is,” she said.
New Parents Feel Isolated
It was stressful enough for pregnant moms to have to speak to their doctors alone, without their partner or family present because of Coronavirus restrictions. Now many are feeling more isolated than ever since the birth of their children. BBC News reports that “new parents have been left ‘socially isolated’ during lockdown and unaware of how to get help.” Some doctors are now offering services through video-chats or calls, but it’s just not the same as talking to a professional in person.
Residents in Group Homes Report Feeling Isolated
In some group homes in North Carolina, residents haven’t been able to see their families since early March. Group home coordinators fear for the health and safety of their older residents. Just one resident who is vulnerable to any sickness (pneumonia, the flu etc) could mean a big change for how a residential treatment facility can operate.
Just one resident who contracts the virus from a weekend with their family could mean serious illness or death for another resident in the facility. On the flipside, being kept away from their families has had huge mental health implications for residents in those facilities, not to mention the inability to spend time outdoors. One resident at a group home talked about putting on weight, and feeling very depressed about their new appearance.
She’s able to walk around the block once a day, but she’s not allowed to communicate with others she sees on her walk. This has made her feel isolated, even though she lives in a treatment facility with so many others.
When Will Things Go Back to Normal?
With the frustration of not knowing when the world will operate in normal conditions again, many feel hopeless. Those who we share a household with will at some point need a break from us. Communication, behaviors, personal space, and recognizing body language can signal to us that someone needs “me time,” and we should be mindful of that. Learning to be mindful and considerate of others is important. None of us can handle it all, we all need breaks. It is a great practice in being kind because we do not know what people are going through, even our own partners. Just because it seems they have it all together, they could be masking their anxiety and stress because they want to feel strong in front of you. Encourage them to show you when they feel weak, so that you can help.
Baleigh Johnson has a degree in Journalism Mass Communication from North Carolina Central University. She has experience in editing, writing, and coming up with creative ideas for stories and projects.