Insights

Chris Rose: 4 minute read

How the internet has helped to alleviate fears

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic was unleashed upon the world, the internet was already at the point in which it should be considered as a public utility.

Imagine right now if the internet was switched off. Not a pleasant thought is it?

Your work would be greatly affected and you would be left struggling to contact loved ones. Parents would struggle to access resources to continue to educate their children and the public would be left with less information. Fear would propagate and newspapers would be free to stoke the fears of those who are vulnerable.

The internet, whether we like it or not is essential at the best of times. In the world in which we are living in today, holding the pieces together. It has kept many of us working, ensured contact with those that we care about, connected the vulnerable to assistance and kept us all informed. It has been a great help to our mental health during these troubled times.

Mental health and COVID-19

In the wake of COVID-19, referrals due to mental health concerns have increased. This is due to the secondary fallout of the virus. From worries regarding employment and family to the inevitable worries relating to personal health.

As well as being a deadly virus that has claimed the lives of thousands, it has also caused secondary concerns. A University of Nottingham of the study discovered that;

‘A major study into the mental health impact of the pandemic found that in the early stages of lockdown 57% of those who took part reported symptoms of anxiety, with 64% recording common signs of depression.’

‘“This is far in excess of levels usually seen in the UK,” said Kavita Vedhara, a professor of health psychology who led the study at the University of Nottingham.’
The Guardian, Stress, anxiety and depression levels soar under UK COVID-19 restrictions

A separate study was also conducted and;

‘…Michael Daly at Maynooth University in Ireland investigated the mental health of 14,000 people in UK households during the lockdown. The results confirmed that women and young people experienced the greatest increases in mental health difficulties, though they also enjoyed the fastest recovery.’
The Guardian, Stress, anxiety and depression levels soar under UK COVID-19 restrictions

What is clear here is that the arrival of COVID-19 has caused considerable damage to our mental health. From stress to depression and increased in anxiety, it has been a challenging time for all of us and now, we are all wondering what the Winter will hold.

What damage could a secondary, UK Lockdown bring?

Not considering the economic, societal and educational problems that would emerge from a second lockdown, the damage to mental health would potentially be worse than before. This would be because those that have experienced concerns before would feel like they are back to square one. In addition to this, the inevitable rise in unemployment over the winter, brought on by the end of furlough, would add additional people to the list of those who find their mental health affected.

A secondary national lockdown would curve the virus and prevent further death, but we also need to be aware of the secondary fallout. The mental health of many has been affected and will continue to be affected, in many waves, just like the virus.

Studies conducted during the lockdown period showed that young people and women were most affected, with women being increasingly affected by difficult home lives due to domestic abuse. A secondary national lockdown would cause thoughts to return here, increasing anxiety and affecting mental health.

What is becoming clear here is that a second national lockdown would affect the mental health of an increased number of individuals. We need to be aware of this and ensure that the vulnerable are identified, testing is increased, and suppression measures are quickly in place. The government has a moral right to consider every angle to this virus and the fallout from a second lockdown.

Thankfully, the internet offers us all a lifeline in uncertain times.

Access to the internet is a human right

The world in which we live offers us the chance to maintain connections beyond the face to face.

Technology when used appropriately can be an enabler of change. It can also maintain connections with those who are vulnerable and our loved ones. At the click of a button, we can open a window and create a video call. This ease of access has opened up a multitude of options in regard to maintaining contact and ensuring those who are vulnerable are protected.

This has helped to promote positive mental health but there are still those who are suffering. The internet and technology are not replacements for face to face contact. It is an enabler of change and to maintain connections, but it cannot hug someone who feels that all is lost. There will always be a place for the face to face, but video platforms can still provide you with access to see those that care for you. This simple consideration can mean the world to most. Without technology and in particular, the internet, we would all have been lost at this time.

Access to the internet is so essential that back in 2016, the United Nations declared it to be a human right.

Conclusion

The internet and access to it is an essential consideration. Access to it is essential for the global economy, our mental health and at the time of crisis, critical to receiving information. The United Nations was correct in declaring it a human right. Whether we like it or not, the internet is essential to our daily lives, wellbeing, and future.

Without the internet, we would all have been left relying on public broadcasts, newspapers and radio communications. Instantaneous updates would have been incredibly difficult and whilst there are considerations with regards to internet addiction, it is clear that without the internet we would have been lost. Families have been able to make contact and for the first time in many years, the world has been united in the search for a cure.

There are tough times ahead but through working together to safeguard the vulnerable, we can move beyond these uncertain times. Our loved ones are only the click of a button away, but this does not mean that the internet is a magic bullet. If there is a second lockdown then the mental health of thousands will be affected.

Planning to prevent a second lockdown, increase testing and looking towards the long-term needs to be undertaken by the government. We believe that mental health is a key consideration in the world, and we all need to be aware of this. At times of crisis, we need to look to the vulnerable and all ask what we can do.