Covid-19 Loneliness Hotline
Effects of COVID-19
1) Illness & Death
The most obvious or direct way in which COVID-19 is affecting people around the world is that it is making people sick. Those illnesses can spiral out of control, leading to long term health issues or even death. Fortunately, most people who get hit with the virus do recover. However, various groups are disproportionately affected, such as the elderly and people with underlying health problems like obesity, diabetes and asthma. The virus is being fought hard by our governments and health care providers using many strategies such as social distancing. We are making progress but it’s a long road.
2) The Economy
The second disastrous consequence of COVID-19 is how it is affecting the economy. In order to reduce illness and death, lockdowns were required. People were told to work from home if they could. Kids were kept home from school. Large groups could not be tolerated. But not every job can be done from home, such as factory work. And entire industries have been decimated, such as the airlines, cruise ships and other travel, hotels, conference facilities, sports stadiums, wedding venues, music concerts, orchestras and restaurants, just to name a few. The list is endless. And even for those people who are able to work from home, having young children at home can make it impossible for a parent to work in a productive manner while simultaneously trying to home school the children. As a result, unemployment exploded and companies started to go bankrupt everywhere. Governments are doing all they can to open up the economy, but this can only happen in fits and starts. Until COVID-19 is under control, the economy will not be able to pick up to a normal level.
Now we come to the third major result of COVID-19. It’s a consequence few people think about. There are billions of people who are not affected by illness from the virus and still have a steady paycheque working from home. Or you might be retired and have fixed income sources rolling in every month. It all sounds good. These people are healthy and have a steady income. What’s the problem?
COVID-19 has required new protocols to shop and go out of the house. Suddenly, we are wearing masks just to buy a few items in a grocery store. We feel like we are living in a strange country where one must line up for bread. We feel like we’re in the middle of a war, unable to see our fellow citizens’ faces under a mask. We are scared of getting too close to each other, which is not a natural feeling. Do you remember what it felt like to put your arm around a friend, or greet a friend with a hug and kiss? Do you remember your grandchildren running up to you and smothering you in hugs? Do you remember standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of people enjoying a rock concert or some other big event? All of that is gone, at least for now.
These restrictions are inhumane. They lead to worry, anxiety, depression and, worst of all, loneliness. It’s a new world where mental health is being destroyed while people hide in their homes. Let me give you a few examples.
One of the most common examples is an elderly person who is trapped in their home. Because of their age, they are part of a vulnerable group and have to be extra careful. Now your groceries are delivered to your door. Someone cuts your lawn for you, but he just waves from a distance and you etransfer the money to him. You barely leave your home except for the occasional walk or to hang out in the backyard if you have one. You might have some friends who call or some family. Maybe you have grandkids you miss desperately. And maybe they even visit, just standing in the driveway talking from 15 feet away. What kind of a life is this? Who is going to talk to you about your life in a deeper way and show some compassion for you?
Young and Single
Another example is a 30 something single woman living in a condo in a big city. She had been active on the dating scene before COVID-19, hoping to find “Mr. Right”, get married and have a child or two. She has no opportunities to meet anyone anymore. She can’t meet new people or date anyone. She happens to have a great office job which she can do from home. So she is healthy and has no income issues whatsoever. However, the loneliness is killing her. She’s afraid to get in the condo elevator because you’re only allowed one or two people on the elevator at a time. She only has a couple of friends and neither of them are close friends. You chat about work and the weather, but what about deeper conversations about your hopes and worries? You can call your parents, but do they really understand how devastating COVID-19 has been to your hopes of meeting someone special and starting a life together?
Married but Lonely
A third example sounds even crazier in terms of covid 19 loneliness. A man lives in his house with a wife and three kids. He is busy working from home, juggling the kids and so on, and he is healthy. However, he and his wife have even less time for each other now given all the stresses they are under. Plus it isn’t normal to have all family members trapped in the same house 24/7 with no break from each other. Normally, you drive to work and only see your wife a couple of hours per day, and that is pleasant enough. But now you’re sick of each other and want to create space between you as much as possible. Your marriage wasn’t all that great in the first place and now this constant pressure is just making the problems more glaring than ever. So here is a man who has four other people around him, no money problems and no health problems. Yet he is suffering from loneliness too.