Impact of 2020

Impact of 2020

Allison Steppach, Reporter

The year 2020 will certainly go down in history for a lot of reasons, but will history also record the new vocabulary many of us shared?  Terms like: “quarantine”, “stay at home order”, “social distancing”, and “remote” took over the day-to-day words that we’re used to. This widely implemented terminology created a new “reality” for the American high schooler and humanity as a whole.

What long term effects will the year 2020 and all of its challenges have on the mental well being of our society? Time will be the only way to gauge that. As for short term effects, those are easy to spot and already creating their sub-set of new terminology. Words like: “COVID fatigue”, “social isolation”, and “quarantine burnout” came from a need to define these mental health challenges so many are faced with. 

What is becoming clearer every day, is that people as a whole need meaningful interaction with each other to feel less anxious, depressed, lonely, and hopeless. These interactions are harder and harder to come by when even the use of social skills such as body language, tone, and facial expression is removed. Masks hide faces and remove facial expressions from the equation, social media interactions lose the use of tone as most communication is in written form, and social distancing removes body language to a large degree. Isolation is a historic punishment, and it is a well-known fact that humans do not do well without a fair amount of interaction. Many studies by the USA Mental Health First Aid show an increase in depression, anxiety, substance abuse, paranoia, distorted reality, suicidal ideation, as well as many physical health issues. These things occur in many if not most people who are subject to long-term isolation.  Mental Health First Aid stated, “In late June, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use.” Many of them were not receiving the proper care they deserve. 

Added to the issues of isolation and the way interactions with one another have changed, is the stress of facing the unknown impact of a global pandemic that is taking away the health and lives of a growing population. Now the world holds its breath as “variants” of this virus emerge. Will the impact of COVID-19/Coronavirus continue for many years to come? Will the attempt at mass vaccinations have a positive impact that is promised by those in “charge”? These questions are on the minds of many, and the only way to find the answer is to continue to live through this challenging time and make peace with what is going on around us.

While the impact of 2020’s events will have repercussions for those who lived through it, there is still hope. Humans are resilient, we will rise from this depression, the swirling thoughts of anxiety, the increase of stress, and loss of mobility. Humanity has proven time and again that during incredible challenges and hardship, the ability to find hope can shape a community and change the way society views the world. It helps one another learn to stop taking the small things for granted and to really appreciate the mundane tasks of everyday life. So, the challenge now rests with those who survive this time; find hope! Share it with those in need, those who have lost someone, and be safe and kind to one another. We never truly know what anyone is facing, and during this age where everything is unknown and vulnerable, is the best time to form a community and build one another back up from the rubble 2020 has left. If one was to take anything from this dumpster-fire of a year, it’s that community and understanding are the top priority. Take life with a grain of salt and enjoy the small things. Here’s to a happier year, happy 2021 Panthers!

 

Picture Credit: “Mental Health @ U of  T” on University of Toronto’s website.