*Staley* I need a mental health day

As one of the owners of Diverge Media – I put a fair bit of pressure on myself to keep up a certain workload. I aim to release one article a day, two videos a week, and one Livestream discussing the news cycle every two weeks. This is more than enough to keep me busy and truth be told, sometimes it’s overwhelming.

That is why today I’ve decided that I won’t begin my day by researching what’s in the news cycle or by digging into research on a story. Instead, I’m hoping that my personal story can be informative to the reader in a different way.

I’m not much of a socialite in reality – I have always been content with a small but loyal group by my side. I’m not the type of person that requires a lot of time with others and often find it energizing to spend time alone. This doesn’t mean however that I don’t need time with others for my mental health and well-being from time to time.

This brings me to the toll lockdowns have taken on people – even for those that don’t consider themselves a social type. I made the joke a while back on a Livestream that COVID-19 lockdowns and protocols have made it so that I look forward to visits at my mother-in-law’s. I have nothing against my mother in law, but her house is usually bustling with other people and children – something those who aren’t socialites don’t exactly love to be thrown into.

The toll of lockdowns on myself

I now find myself struggling with the balancing act of taking care of myself, my work and taking care of the needs of my family and the day to day chores and routines that accompany having small children. I can feel it taking a toll on me, but I struggle to put the words out in a succinct way that would effectively communicate how I feel.

I’ve been angry, depressed, anxious and many other emotions have surfaced as I’ve ridden the rollercoaster of emotions brought on by our government’s draconian handling of COVID-19.

Then the thought occurred to me today – If I’ve been struggling, how hard has all of this been on the kids?

Children’s whole world was stopped

In an instant, the entire world of a child was turned upside down. It was more than just the shutting down of schools – it’s affected every facet of a child’s life. Before the lockdowns and closures of schools, I can remember taking my daughter to go to an arcade that featured a beam to walk across that was suspended in the air. You had to be latched into another beam above the one you walked on that contained a track that held your harness in place.

My daughter was only 5 at the time but wanted to try to walk across the beam. I agreed to do it with her (though I hate heights myself) and we both went and got fitted for our harnesses. Long story short – she didn’t make it across the beam that day because she got fearful of the height and we had to abandon our attempt. She ended up breaking down in tears as she was furious with herself that she didn’t finish what she had set her mind on.

She was determined that she could do it – she knew she could. As soon as we left that day she asked when we would be coming back again so she could redeem herself and try the high beam again. I said that I didn’t know, but we would try to come back as soon as possible. I then commended her for her courage in trying and I vowed that we would be back to finish what we started.

This was just before lockdowns began the first time around. I bring this up to say that my daughter still asks when we will be able to go do the high beam again – all I can ever say these days is I don’t know. All she knows is that one day a virus came and now she can’t do any of the things that we used to enjoy doing together.

The questions I get bombarded with because of the government’s approach

Here is just a shortlist of some of the questions my daughter asks me from time to time because of lockdown;

1.) Dad when can we go to that place again to do the high-beam thing?

2.) Dad when can we go see our cousins again? I miss them.

3.) Dad, when can I go back to school (we chose to homeschool and no subject her to social distancing and masking)?

4.) When the parks were closed she would ask “When can we go to the park again daddy?”

5.) Daddy why is everyone wearing masks?

6.) Dad when can we go to Nama’s again?

I know my daughter is not alone – she is likely the rule and not the exception. Below is a list of just a few articles and excerpts from them of the vast effect that lockdowns are having on children and the mental health and well-being of society as a whole.

Article: Hospital sees more babies with head trauma, fractures amid COVID-19 lockdown

Excerpt from the article: “Since September, the hospital says it has seen more than twice as many babies arriving with serious injuries, confirming fears that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on the most vulnerable members of society and the families who care for them.” – CTV News Jan.29th, 2021

Article: FUREY: ‘People are really spiralling’ — mental health experts sound off on lockdown harms

Excerpt from article: “I have never seen anything like it in my 20 years,” says Michelle Sorensen, a clinical psychologist who sees patients in Ottawa. “People are really spiralling after almost a year of traumatic stress.” – Furey for the Toronto Sun

Article: BABER: The mental health impact of lockdown on Ontario’s youth

Excerpt from article: “According to preliminary findings, during the spring lockdown 70% of children and youth reported worse mental health. “Greater stress from social isolation was the most significant risk factor for worse mental health.” – Roman Baber, now independent MPP writing for the Toronto Sun

Children need to be together

On Jan. 25, 2021, the Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario expressed strong support for reopening schools as soon as possible saying the following in their news release;

“We wholeheartedly support the return to in-person learning with enhanced safety measures, as announced by Stephen Lecce Ontario’s Minister of Education yesterday.”

They also had this to say in their news release, however;

“Systematic testing, vaccinating teachers, reducing class sizes, wearing masks, hand hygiene, and maintaining two metres physical distance are known strategies that will keep our schools and society safe.”

I don’t care for their recommendations but do support the reopening of schools immediately. I don’t support some of their recommendations because I think that PCR tests aren’t a reliable method of testing unless significant changes are made to the cycle threshold values used. I also don’t believe wearing masks is overly effective in reducing transmission and It doesn’t consider the phycological impacts on the development and overall well-being of a child or young adult’s development.

The Pediatricians Alliance does acknowledge that schools need to be considered an essential service and that I agree with;

“Schools are an essential service. Teachers, children and youth workers and early childhood educators are essential to the functioning of our society and must be considered as such,” said Dr. Sharon Burey, the President of the Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario. 

The effects of lockdowns on mental health and physical well-being were also noted by the Pediatricians Alliance when they wrote;

“Pediatricians are seeing a sharp increase in suicidal attempts, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, overdoses, eating disorders, obesity, and late presentation of a host of medical conditions in patients.”

The solution

We need to open up and get back to a resemblance of normal – but take precautions to ensure the vulnerable are protected. I’ve grown tired of having no answers for my children’s questions about lockdowns and the “virus” and I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.

Today, I’m going to turn off the t.v, break up my daily routine and go enjoy some much-needed family time outside. I don’t care how cold it is (I say this from my warm desk), I am going outside and I’m going to enjoy some time with my family today – I need it for my mental health. Take care of yourself – we will see you next time.

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Published by Greg Staley

Greg Staley is a husband and a father to 4 beautiful girls. He is the owner of Diverge Media and takes pride in telling the stories that matter - even if they may be unpopular. In addition to writing, editing, and producing videos and articles for Diverge, Mr. Staley also works full-time on a farm. Mr. Staley is working hard to be able to pursue Diverge Media full-time and wholeheartedly believes that it will become a reality in the near-future with the support of the readers/viewers of Diverge Media.