In most parts of the United States, we’re living under conditions unprecedented in our lifetimes. Never before have millions of Americans been asked to “shelter in place,” and yet many of us have been doing just that for upward of two months now, with varied amounts of additional time stretching out ahead of us—and then, perhaps, a year of sporadic lockdowns to follow. It’s uncharted territory and experts are still debating how the effects of such long-term social isolation might impact our mental health.
While public health experts agree that this scenario is best for our physical health, no one could argue it’s doing any favors for our mental health. You may have seen a meme or two comparing what you’re being asked to do—”stay home and watch Netflix”—compared to, say, being asked to go to war in Vietnam, with the implication being that you should stop whining because you have it relatively good. In some ways, this is absolutely true; however, downplaying the difficulty of the situation we’re in is problematic. The risks we face are very real, and uncertainty remains as to how we can expect them to unfold over time.
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