Since a national shut down in the United States on March many of the residents find themselves enclosed for health and safety reasons caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Most businesses are temporarily closed, some permanently and with a few you are allowed to enter has resulted in major economic downfall. As a result we have seen a closing of many local businesses, those who survive abide by new in-store or in-restaurant allowance capacities established by the government executive order. The citizens employed by these businesses have had their hours cut drastically, been fired, laid off or made to go into a forced temporary leave causing a rise of 14% of unemployment. Now the streets are empty and the nightlife nonexistent as citizens choose to stay in their homes to prevent disease spread and for money saving.
Residents remaining in their home have led to many problems, specially for those who live alone and suffer from mental illness, an estimated 8.9 million. For people with mental health issues, social interactions are extremely important in order to maintain balance in their lives and for many it’s in their jobs where they interact socially. Being isolated from physical interaction with friends, family, colleagues or other people can send someone with mental illness into deep cycles of depression and anxiety. Remembering that they live alone, it can be a big space like a house or a small one like an apartment but there is no one to monitor them, to know how their day is going, what they are feeling or just to be there. It is very easy for these patients to disconnect and for their behavior to change quickly on any day but on the circumstances currently being lived where the population in general is being encouraged to keep themselves isolated in their homes and distanced from others when out. The risks for these changes rise exponentially higher than usual with the added economic stress from losing hours or losing a job and still having to pay rent, utilities and food, it isn’t the ideal situation. It can cause people in this community to misuse alcohol, drugs and physically harming themselves and that may lead to what we call “deaths of despair” which includes the acts dying because of the misuse of alcohol, overdosing on drugs and committing suicide.
The triggers for these mental health patients, an already vulnerable community, are usually hard to perceive but now there is more clarity towards their situation. It’s right in our face, people who don’t suffer from mental illness are feeling the triggers of the depression and the anxiety that most of them feel. The difference? Most of us live with someone and it can be mom, dad, brothers, sisters or romantic partners that support us and keep us away from going deeper by talking to us or distracting us. These people who suffer from mental health issues, don’t always have someone to rely on, most of them don’t and now they are in their homes, suffering, thinking and going deeper into what they feel with no one to distract them or talk with them face to face. Completely isolated from everyone, hoping it be over soon and feel “normal” once again. Where would you be if you were completely alone in this pandemic? Would you feel normal?