A Covid Vocabulary Lesson for Mental Health

To say that our world wide pandemic (the COVID-19 virus) has affected each and every one of us is an understatement. Even if you identify as being laid back or one who likes change – no matter how flexible you may be, there has been a disruption to your professional and personal flow of life. If you identify as one that struggles with anxiety, depression or OCD, we know that this is especially hard for you. Know that you are not alone. Stats say that 1 in 4 struggled with mental health pre-covid and I’m not sure what that number is less than a year later.

Something I do know one year later is that we now have a completely different vocabulary. Do these sound familiar?:

“Asymptomatic vs symptomatic, asymptomatic transmission, case cluster, community transmission, contact tracing, confirmed positive vs presumptive positive, coronavirus, covid19, entry screening, epidemic vs pandemic, exponential growth, flatten the curve, host cell, incubation period, index case, intensive care, N95 mask, respirator, physical distancing, social distancing, personal protective equipment, self-quarantine vs self isolate, self-assessment tool…”

…and on and on it goes.

Children as young as preschool age have used these words – some have even  used them in a proper sentence! All of these new words we have added to our regular repertoire are sterile, institutional, and bring an uncertainty that is uncomfortable for us.

Know that you are not alone.

So what do we do? How do we make our conversations less sterile and more peaceful? How do we embrace the season we are in – facing our realities – yet make changes to bring peace and hope to ourselves and those around us?  In Philippians 4:8 it says:

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

Some words I pull out of this text are truth, honor, purity, admiration, and excellence. If we check ourselves, have we listened to and spoken truth today? Have we honored someone for the good they are doing for others? Have we gone out of our way to compliment someone or admire their successes? Have we been striving to give excellence to the work we are called to do?

We all have the power within us to use vocabulary that builds each other up. We can choose to speak the truth. Masks are not required at home – we can smile, give hugs, and bring peace to our families.  We can use snuggly, comfy words around our kids rather than sterile, scary words. We can text those around us who are struggling with their mental health. A simple, “I’m thinking of you” goes a long way. Let’s put into practice these things so that the God of peace will be with us and spread to our families, friends, co-workers and neighbours.

Have we listened to and spoken truth today?

I pray for peace, grace, and love for all of you! If you are struggling, be brave today and reach out to a trusted friend, mentor or pastor. If you know someone who is struggling, a grand gesture is not necessarily what they need.  A simple text of encouragement may just completely make their day.

Be brave today and reach out.

Remember that our hope is in Jesus. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

He is in this with us. We are not alone.

Kriston Martens

Kriston is the Director of Recruitment for Horizon College & Seminary