THERE’S a chair in my front garden. It is more than two meters from

the window, and it is not for me.

I put it there for my friends who stay nearby and who live alone or who may be struggling with the current situation.

Loneliness is a cruel brain mist and this level of uncertainty helps no one’s mental health. Social distancing may be difficult for most of us but for some it is almost torturous.

We may all make jokes about this situation being the introverts dream scenario but in my experience the introvert craves company just as much as the extrovert, they just engage with that company in a different way.

For so many, lockdown is incredibly difficult and mental health needs to also be looked after just as much as our physical health. Whilst people can keep telling me that a video call with friends has the same effect on the brain as a face to face catch up, I beg to differ. My brain craves company. My eyes need to see other eyes, in real life, not in a picture. And I didn’t know I needed the feeling of craving being able to hug someone until I was told I wasn’t allowed to hug someone.

We’ve switched almost overnight from a world where we’re constantly warned about the danger of too much screen time to a world where it is almost all of our social interaction.

Our work is all remote, connected only by the cloud and emails; our children’s schooling is through apps; our meetings are through video conference; and our friendships are over social media and WhatsApp even more than they already were.

So that is why I put a chair in my front garden. I want my friends who pass by during their daily outdoor allowance to be able to park their bum for a minute or 10, and enjoy (albeit from two meters distance) the joy of looking into another human’s eyes and of hearing their words without the tinny delay of their technology’s speakers, and with the emotion that pours out of us when we realise just how much we crave company.

I am, like anyone with anyone sense, willing those who can stay indoors to do exactly that. But it isn’t possible for us all and if the simple act of a chair outside a window can prevent someone’s mental health from taking a downward spiral then it worth prioritising just as much as our physical wellbeing.

On the other side of this we are going to be living in a very different world. One that has been challenged

in ways that for most of us,

a few months ago seemed unthinkable.

So much of how that change happens is completely out with our control but how we look after each other isn’t; just ask the phenomenal NHS staff; the people working to keep our transport systems running; our fire and police services; our social workers; our carers; our third sector.

If our mental health is as important as our physical, and it is I promise you, then we all have a duty of care in this.