Over the last year and a half, people around the world have experienced collective trauma inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost everyone has some relation to COVID-19, directly and indirectly, from contracting the virus or losing a loved one, to wearing masks and experiencing social distancing restrictions. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) latest announcement about fully vaccinated individuals no longer needing to wear masks in most circumstances is a step in the right direction, many might feel anxious about returning to normalcy after this unprecedented era. With feelings of isolation and many lacking in-person interactions, our society will need to place higher emphasis on mental health to resume normalcy in a post-pandemic world.
During times of crisis, important societal issues and trends become more apparent. After September 11, Americans suffered a deep and public trauma that lingered months and years after the attacks, even for those indirectly affected by this event. The mental trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded in a similarly public and universally felt way while the profound isolation and loneliness we have experienced brings us into a new kind of shared experience.
Although social distancing measures and lockdown measures were necessary to contain the spread of the coronavirus, these actions came at a cost. As we look to the future, there is a growing concern about the long-term impact of social distancing restrictions as connection is necessary for humans; if it is removed, it can take a severe toll on the mental state of individuals.