Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

You’re aware of the risks when it comes to not social distancing right now, as well as not wearing masks and gloves when you are out. Maybe you’re young and healthy, but you’re still trying to be extra careful with not putting yourself at risk for catching the virus. You may be not so much concerned about yourself. But you may be worried about passing the virus onto those who are physically vulnerable such as the elderly and those who have weak immune systems.

The goal is to protect yourself as well as your community. That’s understandable.

However, there is one major problem that is not getting enough attention. That is this pandemic has also increased the mental health risks such as increased depression and anxiety. That is not the worst part of it. Those who have mental illnesses who are trying to not regress into a hole are often judged if they go out to a hardware store to get ‘non-essential’ items. Their thinking is why bother putting the community at risk while going out to get an item that is ‘non-essential’.

You may see a man head over to the hardware store who is buying plenty of cans of paint. You may be thinking ‘how can he be selfish and put those at risk by going out to get items that he does not really need’. But here is the thing. Maybe for him, the cans of paint are essential. Maybe those cans of paint are helping him cope with his depression. Maybe he needs to so some home improvement during the time of quarantine for the sake of his mental health.

The same goes for the woman who is buying seeds and soil, as you may think that she is being selfish for risking others by purchasing a non-essential item. But what if she is an alcoholic who is doing her best to stay sober during this stressful time? Maybe buying seeds and soil to watch something grow is the very thing she needs to do in order to keep her sober.

The point is you cannot judge those who are leaving their homes to buy non-essential items. Sure, there is also a curbside pickup option. But that is not quite the point. You may be so focused on staying home unless you absolutely need to go out to get essential for the purpose of protecting those who are physically vulnerable. But don’t forget people are struggling with their mental health right now. There are more suicides, addiction relapses, and at the very least people who were doing well with their mental health have been regressing. Let’s not forget the wellbeing of those who are struggling as well.

Coronavirus is not the only epidemic going on right now. Mental illness is as well and this means you have to consider the needs of those who may not be physically vulnerable but are vulnerable due to the fact that they are struggling with mental illness right now.

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