There is a common theme that pervades the world right now: Fear.  And for a change we are not writing a blog on strategy/digital/brands etc.  Rather we are focussing on the bigger picture which is affecting us all right now

We’ve found ourselves in a media onslaught – an all out information war – where it’s hard to tell the truth from propaganda, instilling anxiety, fear, distrust and distress in many.

And as the UK heads into another Lockdown, there is the added uncertainty and insecurity. 

This is not a call to action against the government or any ideology.  But rather an appeal to humanity to come together towards a future, even if we don’t know what that looks like anymore. The question is, what do we want?  Surely when you dig deep enough we mostly want the same things?  Trust rather than fear and paranoia, unity rather than separation, love instead of hatred, a thriving economy with equal opportunity, healthy relationships, true leaders we can look up to, prosperity and a good quality of life.  This list is obviously not exhaustive!!  And 2020 has appeared to be going in a very different direction.  Sometimes we need to have a wake up call to see where we are really at, beyond the superficial facade.  Sometimes we need to learn some very important but hard lessons – lessons that for most of us have meant a redefining of life from every angle, every lens. 

Perhaps it’s time to embrace this as the opportunity that it is and question our purpose, across all aspects of our life.  

This is not meant to dismiss the very real situation that we are in, everyone is affected to varying degrees, and for some it may be looking pretty stark right now.  There is a very real and palpable truth to the impact of Covid19 on our global economy, as we all know.

But let’s dive deeper into something that is far more deadlier than the virus itself.

  1. The UN has described the worldwide increase in domestic abuse as a “shadow pandemic” alongside Covid19.  Cases of domestic abuse increased by 20% during June/July 2020 and two thirds of women in abusive relationships suffered more violence from their partners during the first pandemic lockdown and found it harder for them to escape their abusers.

Women, especially front line workers such as doctors, nurses and street vendors have been at a heightened risk of violence as they navigate deserted urban or rural public spaces and transportation services under lockdown.

  1. The financial loss as a result of quarantine has created serious socio economic distress and is currently a very high risk factor for symptoms of psychological disorders as was experienced several months after quarantine and the first global lockdown. This finding is probably linked to economic effects but is also related to disruption of social networks and loss of leisure activities.
  2. More than two thirds of adults (68%) reported that their mental health got worse during lockdown; with 18–24 year olds (60%) the most affected due to loneliness. Nearly three quarters (73%) of those with an eating disorder, PTSD (72%) or OCD (72%) said their mental health got worse during the pandemic. BAME communities have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus also, due to racism in the UK and worldwide. 

As a direct consequence of the pandemic and all that follows, many people who were previously well will now develop mental health problems. Add to this, acute financial strain, low income, unemployment, household dynamics (living alone, domestic violence, living with young children not attending nursery/school) are just the tip of the iceberg. 

The lasting effects of trauma and severe economic pressures will be keenly felt by millions – those working on the frontline, people who haven’t had an opportunity to grieve, those who have spent months alone and lonely, young people who had their support network taken away overnight. And this is about to get worse as we head into a second lockdown. Many people entered the pandemic from positions of disadvantage. Certain population groups in our society already had a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health and wellbeing than people from more advantaged positions. 

None of us have the answers and yet somehow we innately can tap into our own inner intelligence that guides us, we can bring a level of care and compassion not just to each other but primarily starting with ourselves. 

It’s like everyone is in the same storm but in different boats. Some boats are bigger, some appear small but nevertheless are caught in the same storm. 

Much of the difference in mental health effects depends on the level of resources each of us has, to weather the storm.  Depending on the size of our boat and the navigation equipment at hand, we will be able to cope better or worse with the waves of the pandemic. For example, it has actually been easier or even a blessing in disguise for some to cope with the consequences of the virus.  Changes in working conditions (ie working from home more), less expenditure, more quality time with family, slower pace of life etc.  But then this is a relatively smaller percentage of the population. 

There is much more to what meets the eye, and everything is interconnected and intertwined.  Hence the purpose of this blog is to question, reflect and ponder on what is our role in all this; what is our purpose?  Where do we want to go from here, as we face a second lockdown.

How about starting with bringing back true connection? A connection that is timeless in its essence and yet very practical in its application. This is a time to come together and not go into a winter hibernation withdrawal as the world rages a storm. This is a time where even if we cannot support anyone around us tangibly, we can offer them a reflection of what is true in the lived sense, and of what truly matters.  What constellates in our lives will always be tailored to the lessons we need to learn (sometimes through adversity) but just as there are a trillion + stars above us which all shine together, so can we.

This will take a level of solidarity and a coming together so that eventually we can set the course of where we want to go as a society. For too long we have given away our power and now we find ourselves in nanny states, where compliance appears to be the only option, for our ‘safety and security’.

True mental health support in any social care system must be looked at from a social and a holistic place rather than a medical viewpoint. A collective voice rather than just hiding in our own bubbles is the need of the hour.

We can actually change the game and start playing it instead of being played by it.  But for this we have to see through the lies and have the courage to see the truth of what is being offered at each step, whether it be pertaining to the pandemic, Brexit, US elections, China etc.  We have an opportunity to go beyond the superficiality and break through the barriers that have separated and devolved us.

We have to be first willing to take responsibility for where we find ourselves and for what our next steps could look like in all this.  Can we do this?  If so then we have a chance of actually bringing to fruition the kind of future that we all long for.  It’s not too late.  

The choice is always ours.  The red pill or the blue pill?  The power has always been ours to deconstruct the Matrix, like Neo did. Let’s Go!

Our brand founder and author of this blog Chetan Jha is leading not just change but also innovation across the board through best practises that echo compassion understanding and reflection. To know more, email us: [email protected] 

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