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We all need looking after sometimes
If there’s one thing the universally despised COVID pandemic has taught us, it’s when we listen to each other and work together we can achieve just about anything.
Of course, we’ve all learned a lot more than that. For instance, in the early days of the virus it became crystal clear that there will always be enough toilet roll for everyone, grandparents can use Zoom and Facetime, and many organisations and businesses can work remotely just as effectively and in a much greener way, as the UK aims to be the world’s first major economy to be carbon neutral.
But it’s the people stuff that is the most important. The heroes of the Intensive Care Units in the NHS will always be remembered and thanked; Captain Sir Tom Moore lifted the nation with his spirit, bravery and a smile and, in every street, in every office and every shop floor friends, colleagues and neighbours looked after each other.
And how we needed it…
The pandemic has been cruel in the way it attacked the most vulnerable and has left mental scars on far too many people, though there were disparities between men and women. More men have died; in April 2020 weekly coronavirus deaths peaked at 5,000 deaths for men and 3,600 for women, but women’s well-being has been more negatively affected, according to recent research from the Office of National Statistics. The findings show significantly different levels of anxiety, loneliness and worry between men and women. Women were 1.3 times more likely to report loneliness than men during the last year.
Women were more likely to be furloughed; in November 1.9 million women were on furlough compared to 1.8 million men, while women spent significantly less time working from home and more time on unpaid household work and childcare.
And you may or may not be surprised to learn that, between June and August 2020, a higher proportion of men than women said they were ‘not at all worried’. Around one in three women reported that their mental health was negatively affected by home schooling, compared to one in five men. By February 2021 more parents had endured enough, the figures rising to 53 per cent for women and 45 per cent for men.
Tragically, the male suicide rate hit a two decade high in 2019, at 17 deaths per 100,000, 4303 deaths alongside 1,388 women. And the charity Samaritans has reported that, while there is no guarantee the impact of COVID will increase these sad figures, the pandemic has increased known risk factors. Samaritans chief executive Ruth Sutherland said: “With the impact of the pandemic this year taking a huge toll on people’s mental wellbeing, we should be even more concerned.”
There are worrying trends, with men aged between 45 and 49 most at risk, and an increase in suicide rates among young people.
We have all endured a difficult year but there are sunny days ahead, and hopefully, better times just around the corner. And we must take the best of what we have learned during the last 15 months and keep a look out for each other. Soldiers returning from the World Wars were let down by a society which knew nothing of post traumatic stress, but we can afford no such blind spot.
Let’s not forget how we all pulled together, take the spirit of Sir Tom and the time to care for each other.
A smile or a cup of tea can go a long way in these socially distanced times…let’s not leave anyone out.
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