COVID-19 and Mental Health
The international campaign ”Mind the Gap” focuses on the terminology of “social distancing”, a concept that for many persons with psychosocial or physical disability only increases their social isolation further. “Physical distancing” is a necessity in times of a COVID-19 pandemic, but the ones who are hurt most by the current crisis are those who are in need of social contacts, who are lonely, are chronically ill, are elderly without a social network, and are people with mental health problems who are often neglected, ignored and sometimes openly shunned by others. To them social distancing means that their isolation becomes a high-security prison, an isolation cell, and to some it will be a reason enough to seriously consider ending their lives.
Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP has spoken out against using the term at an early stage of the COVID crisis, and some basic materials were developed to illustrate our position. Others have also expressed their concern, and also the World Health Organization has called upon authorities and the general public to change the term to “physical distancing”.
In April 2020 we started an international campaign to stop using the term “social distancing” and instead to change it into “physical distancing” and social solidarity. The campaign is supported by 50 organizatioins worldwide. The campaign visuals have been translated in 40 languages and are free to use in social media or in any other form. Well-known people have agreed to have us use their portrait with the campaign visuals; others have added a quote. Further information can be found on our website www.covidandmentalhealth.eu