Social Distancing, Reframed
March 13th, 2020 | Kindred Voices
Public health officials suggest we protect one another from exposure to the COVID-19 virus by social distancing. This practice helps curb spread of the disease; however, the isolation that accompanies social distancing can bring equally dangerous mental health and social consequences. What if instead of thinking about social distancing, we consider every action in the spirit of physical distancing and social solidarity? How do we support safe physical distancing and also stand in social solidarity with one another? This is an opportunity to envision, create, and sustain a Movement!
We thoughtfully consider:
1. Who are the vulnerable people whose needs are likely to be forgotten while we are cloistered at home?
2. For whom is the sense of isolation going to intensify depression or suicidality?
3. Who has been unable to prepare by stockpiling resources because of limited transportation, childcare, or finances?
4. For whom is the lack of certainty about this pandemic driving obsessions and/or anxiety that is distressing and difficult to manage?
5. Who is facing economic realities because their job is no longer necessary with everyone sheltered at home?
6. Furthermore, home isn’t always safe. Who is in danger because of not having escape outlets or eyes monitoring for physical or behavioral indicators? Who is losing access to their trusted person to tell?
In our Movement, we actively respond.
Social solidarity during a time of physical distancing requires everyone to remain emotionally proximate to one another.
It looks like remembering and checking on those folks who might otherwise be forgotten.
It looks like everyone abiding by the social contract we have with one another to wash our hands longer and more thoroughly. It means skipping that event if symptomatic. In our Movement, we are tethered to the greater good.
Social solidarity looks like proactively offering to serve as an emergency contact or caregiver for children should the single parent become ill.
Social solidarity means monitoring our own mental health and reaching out if we are struggling with the isolation. It means braving the discomfort to express the need for help.
It means honoring the realities of mental illness as well as mental wellness, and ensuring we give equal attention to the whole person who is experiencing isolation.
Above all, during this time of physical distancing and social solidarity, we remain considerate and responsive to one overarching reality:
We Need Each Other.