COVID’s Latest Victims: Those Afraid to Return to the World

by Kerry Dougherty

If there’s one thing we can all agree upon it’s that mental health services are woefully inadequate in Virginia.

Our jails are filled with mental patients. So are our homeless shelters. Our state hospitals are so packed that they usually don’t have any beds available.

So, given the limited resources available, am I the only one wondering why mental health resources are being spent to help people who are afraid to come out from under their beds now that the COVID emergency is over?

I hesitate to point this out but if some Virginians are paralyzed by fear of a return to normalcy, it’s due to all of the hysteria whipped up by the government and the media for 15 straight months.

When I contacted the Virginia Department of Health yesterday, a spokesman said these “Coping With Re-Entry Anxiety” events weren’t theirs, these programs are run by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, a separate agency.

When I reached them, I learned that the VACOPES programs are funded by federal grant money from FEMA and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.)

Virginia received two grants to help those struggling from the effects of lockdowns. In June of 2020, the commonwealth got the first check for $391,655. Two months later another $996,000 arrived to run “crisis counseling programs” through May of 2021. In April, Virginia received an extension to continue the programs through November.

No doubt lots of folks were experiencing serious mental health problems when they suddenly lost their jobs, were told that their work was “non-essential” and when they were cut off from their support systems due to stern warnings against gathering with others. Thousands of children needed help, too, when they were suddenly locked out of their schools and confined to their homes.

Tax dollars — and lots of them — should have gone to those crumbling under government mandates that ripped away their societal safety nets.

But mental health services for people anxious about a return to normal life? Seriously?

You know who won’t be needing these services? The people who didn’t have the luxury of staying home and binge watching Netflix and Hulu during the pandemic.

America’s farmers and truck drivers, for instance. America’s grocery clerks, nurses, doctors, police officers, fire fighters, plumbers, pharmacists, electricians, garbage collectors, carpenters, delivery drivers, postal workers, liquor store employees and, oh yeah, even radio hosts.

You know, people who had to GO to work every day to keep Western civilization from unraveling.

That, of course, was the wicked irony of the lockdowns. Many of those barricaded in their homes were middle-class folks, coolly working on their laptops during the pandemic and never missing a paycheck, while ordering the working class to fetch things for them.

Now they’re afraid to take off their pj’s and venture out?

Oh, please.

At the risk of sounding insensitive, these folks just need to open their doors and breathe the fresh air.

It’s nice out here. Join those of us who were out here all along, keeping things going for you.

Party like it’s 2019.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.