By Milly Wildish – Director of safeguarding at Keys to safeguarding

There are so many media reports detailing the impact of lockdown on mental health and indeed for many, health anxiety and depression have been exacerbated by restrictions on our movement and the worry of staying safe.

We have now started the process of easing restrictions, with the likelihood of most businesses being back open within months.  It seems we are overlooking the fact that the lifting of restrictions is causing deterioration to some individual’s mental health and we are not all celebrating the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

A frightening pandemic with no cure is spreading fast.  Your home is a safe haven.  You can clean, stop people visiting and have your food delivered, which you can disinfect before bringing you’re your home.  If you do go out, people keep their distance, it’s quieter, a calmer pace of life.  This new world brings comfort and you feel in control for once, despite what is happening.

We are only at the very early stages of easing restrictions but the shops are busy and people are not really keeping their distance.  The roads are busy and it is becoming noisy again.  Soon people will be able to visit you again.  But the virus is not gone, the dangers still exist, the anxiety you have been living with for years felt more manageable and now the sense of loss of control is creeping back.

We all have a responsibility to be mindful that getting back to ‘normal’ is not a good thing for everyone and there are some who will really struggle.  Employers need to be aware that cheerfully announcing on zoom that the office will be back open asap will bring a sense of terror for some.  It is not just adults that will struggle to adjust to a life that is familiar but different.  Children will find the new layout at school strange and unsettling.  The teacher that once shook your hand or patted you on the back will be keeping their distance.  Sports equipment will be taped off and you won’t be sitting next to your best friend at lunch.

We thought the lockdown was causing a deterioration in mental health, easing off the lockdown may well be just as harmful.