IT’S taken a national crisis, but we’re finally talking about mental health as something that applies to everyone.

Stress, anxiety, loneliness – all reasonable responses to the situation in which we find ourselves. 

Lockdown has forcibly changed our patterns, and this is difficult. 

Financial threats to jobs and business are hugely stressful. 

The uncertainty of what’s next and the worry for loved ones can be overwhelming. 

For those at home, a surge in caring responsibilities makes concentration near-impossible. 

For key workers, the exhaustion of the pandemic response will last a long time after things find a new normal. And there will be a significant long-term impact on those for whom lockdown has triggered traumatic memories, or who are now stuck in a house with chaos, violence, addiction or abuse.

Of course, many people were already in crisis before this one came along – maybe what is different now is that middle class people are being exposed to the kind of financial, housing, food and health insecurity that too many in our city already knew. And so it’s only now that we’re talking about how Universal Credit isn’t enough to live on and noticing that care workers do an incredibly hard job for hardly any money.

In the same way, mental ill health was everywhere before this pandemic, but we could get away with believing it only affected certain people, rather than all of us. Now lockdown has brought the collective emotional toll to the surface in a way that makes it impossible to ignore.

However, merely talking about these issues is wildly inadequate when we are so far away from the kind of support pathways we need. 

Glasgow Times: Dennistoun councillor Kim LongDennistoun councillor Kim Long

Professional mental health support should be normal, free, and accessible at the point of need.

This should not be a radical notion – if someone went to A&E with a broken leg and was told to wait 12 weeks to see a doctor, there would rightly be an uproar. 

Mental pain is no less painful, and the risk of severe consequences like self-harm, suicide, and damaged relationships is much more serious than a broken bone – yet this is what has been happening as routine for mental health. 

It’s still a lottery whether you meet a GP who has time to really listen to you – and even when taken seriously, you’re placed on a waiting list and sent home. 

It takes courage to ask for help, and being met with what feels like an impossibly long wait for treatment is cruel.

At the moment, looking after our mental health should count as essential. 

Greens have called for ‘daily exercise’ rules to incorporate anything which makes you feel better, provided you are keeping a safe distance, be that going for a walk or sitting in the sun. 

Not everyone has a garden, and not everyone can walk a distance without needing to sit down.

Longer term, the way out of this lockdown must include radical change in how we approach mental health treatment. 

It’s a good thing that we’re talking about how all of us will 
be shaped by this crisis – now let’s build a system that takes care of our heads along with our bodies.