At present the entire world is in a major global crisis impacting all and everyone at every level, physical, psychological, financial, and more.
The whole world is in a survival mode, sharing the same experience and a sense of togetherness, community, compassion to fight the same enemy, COVID-19. People who had hardly experienced to be looked after and cared for in the past are enjoying the attention and care provided by neighbours and the community, even the Government is trying to look after those who are struggling to survive.
There has never been a time like this; everyone cares with the highest level of understanding and compassion for the sufferers and those in need. This is the positive impact of COVID-19 at a social level, a new social order The shared traumatic experience of COVID-19 pandemic has made this possible.
No one is alone, everyone is in it together regardless of all the factors, race, religion, culture, class, education, position, colour, beliefs and values, which had created division in the past.
Everyone is the same, no discrimination, everyone can get it and die, if you are not careful or unlucky. At present similarities of the experience, feelings, and suffering are much higher than differences in a global scale. This unites everyone and gives a strong sense of belonging to being a human being, vulnerable and scared no matter who and where you are.
In the past suffering was a lonely experience felt by individuals. Not the case at present, it is felt by the community, society and globally.
This is the present, but what about the future when COVID-19 has gone and become a history, a story of the past? Is there a risk of differences emerging even more than before and creating societies which are more divisive in relation to those differences? The understanding of each other could become much more difficult as a result these differences.
There will be no shared experience by all, losses will not be at the same level, fears, compassion, community, global senses of fighting against the same enemy will disappear once COVID-19 is gone and forgotten. After all it is the human nature to forget and move on, an important defence mechanism used to lessen the impact of suffering and trauma.
Forgetting and moving on won’t be possible for everyone depending on the individual experience and the impact of what is happening to them during the pandemic. There will come the time when everyone has to deal with many losses, grief, anger, sadness and the most important question ‘Why me?’ on their own, ‘us’ will become ‘me’. People are impacted by the COVID-19 trauma has to manage and deal with the trauma individually and may well need professional help.
With mental health services over stretched in the past and indeed even more so at present, how we can make sure that there are adequate services with sufficient training to deal with and support all the individuals, families , communities and societies impacted by this unique traumatic experience?
We are in a major emergency and short term solutions have needed to relieve the pain but they are not cure, they are not solutions. They are like painkillers to relieve the pain which won’t help to solve the real problem. This may become like a social disease, a social pandemic with no known treatment bigger than COVID-19 if we don’t start to prepare now.
Image credit: Freepik
Zohreh Rahimi is a clinical psychologist, family and systemic psychotherapist, and a clinical manager working at Freedom form Torture.