“We see the world through the lens of all our experiences; that is a fundamental part of the human condition” – Madeleine M. Kunin – Diplomat, author and politician
If we do see the world through the lens of all our experiences, as Ms Kunin suggests, chances are that most of us have had an unexpected and drastic change of lenses over the past 18 months. We have come to see the world from behind masks, with the perpetual sting of hand sanitiser in our nostrils. We have become used to keeping our distance from strangers and loved ones, to the unease that goes hand-in-hand with the simplest of sniffles or a cough, and to viewing the world, our colleagues and our work through the distant lenses of computers; not first-hand, up close, face-to-face, as most of us were used to in the past. Many of us have come to feel detached and removed from other people and the world around us. We fear for our friends, our families, our children, and for ourselves. We worry about our jobs, our safety, and wonder whether our hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future will be achieved from behind a mask or a computer screen.
Our world has become filtered, diluted through multiple lenses, in the interest of protecting us from COVID-19. And while most of us have begrudgingly accepted this as our new way of life for the foreseeable future, it has had a profound and undeniable impact on our individual and collective mental health. Even those of us who thought ourselves mentally-healthy and resilient before 2020, have probably come to know the meaning of isolation, anxiety and depression in some way or another. Let’s be honest… COVID-19 has left nobody’s mental health untouched.
The SA Federation for Mental Health has published its Annual Report for the 2020-2021 financial year. To read more about the research that has been done on the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health, please visit page 6 of the SAFMH Annual Report.