Why we shouldn’t be using the term “Social Distancing”

Emily May 25th March 2020

As we try to navigate through this territory of unknown, we are repeatedly told by health departments, our governments and our society that we must maintain social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

So many of our face-to-face interactions that our everyday lives are based on have been shut down. We are told to stay at home unless going for essential services or shopping; all events have been cancelled; we must self-isolate; we must work from home. This is a time like we have never experienced before.

For us, living with mental health issues is hard enough when we have a network of support. Being isolated from society and heading into the unknown with little reassurance has caused increasing amounts of mental health challenges.

What we really should be doing is “Physical Distancing”.

When experiencing mental or emotional challenges, we are always told to maintain our social connections as this is key to our survival. What we are currently experiencing is one of the most distressing, concerning, and anxiety-provoking events most of us have ever witnessed on a global scale. Social connectedness is more key than ever.

This is why the term ‘social distancing’ is extremely unhelpful.

Physical distancing and the recommendations from our health departments and governments are pivotal in slowing the spread of this virus, and hopefully containing it; but social solidarity is key to us as a community getting through this together. It is proven that social connectedness offsets the negative mental health impacts of a pandemic, so let’s strive to get creative in how we socialise with our communities and loved ones, offering support and kindness wherever we can – within a safe physical distance, of course.


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