School of Health

Mourning and melancholia: the psychological shadow-pandemic

Kathryn de Prudhoe, graduate of our PG Diploma Counselling & Psychotherapy and part-time lecturer in the Psychological Therapied and Mental Health team, has contributed to a poignant article ‘Mourning and melancholia: the psychological shadow-pandemic’ that has been featured on the cover of the New Statesman magazine

Kathryn de Prudhoe

In the article, author Sophie McBain discusses the psychological effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, describing it as ‘the biggest hit to mental health since the Second World War’. She writes about its impact on frontline NHS staff, but also the shared experience of loss that we have all suffered over the last year – whether this is loss of loved ones, patients, livelihoods, or loss of time and experiences.

In her exploration of the grief and trauma brought about by the pandemic, McBain features Kathryn’s devastating experience of losing both her father and uncle to Covid-19, and the amazing work she has since been doing to campaign for the group COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice; calling on the government to fund bereavement support services (read more about Kathryn’s experience and campaign work). She also highlights the prolonged pain that families like Kathryn’s have experienced, of not only experiencing the tragic loss of loved ones, but then having to grieve these losses in isolation.

Kathryn said 'the scale of loss arising from the pandemic is impossible to quantify, yet it is universal; something every single one of us has experienced on some level.  My hope is that our shared experience presents an opportunity to change the way we talk about loss and grief in our society; that instead of shying away from it, we embrace this fundamental part of life to create positive change.'

The article gives a powerful insight into the ‘psychological shadow-pandemic’, something that is likely to last beyond the physical impact of the Covid-19 virus, the societal inequality that this has exposed, and acknowledges the pain that everyone has experienced in their own way as a result. It finishes however with a hope that as we grow closer to becoming ‘post-pandemic people’ this could mean ‘having a deeper sense of empathy and compassion, a restored sense of social solidarity, a political purpose’.