During the pandemic, social services are more important than ever. As we adjust to our new ‘normal,’ we shouldn’t forget that.
The pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop, to put it mildly. Those who were once financially stable are now relying on stimulus checks. Mentally, many of us are feeling isolated. As a result, more people than ever are using social services.
If social services were more accessible in the first place, the country wouldn’t be pressured to reopen before it was ready to. Lockdown has been our most efficient way of combatting the novel coronavirus—but without proper social services, sustaining quarantine is virtually impossible.
Social services have been essential in keeping people afloat during the pandemic. While some people recover physically from illness, mental health will continue to be a struggle for others, especially as physical distancing measures persist. Fighting the lasting effects of the pandemic is a long-term battle, and one that needs to be funded.
Social services need to be funded not just now, but post-coronavirus. It’s time we re-evaluate what it means to be healthy, both physically and mentally.
This applies to Queen’s, too, especially as students anticipate a remote fall term. First-years living on campus, unable to attend in-person classes, could feel more isolated. Many students and their families will have lost jobs this summer. Come September, students might be facing food insecurity or financial instability, unable to access or afford the services they need.
Queen’s must be prepared for an increased need for social services on campus. This includes its Food Bank, which closed in wake of the pandemic due to distancing concerns, and just recently reopened.
Social services on campus in general—like the Food Bank and the Student Wellness Centre—can be difficult to navigate online. Information needs to be more readily available to give students the access they need and encourage them to use the services.
The more these services are promoted, the more the University can reduce the stigma surrounding them. Not all students feel comfortable using the Food Bank or booking a counselling appointment, and yet talking about these services and making them a larger part of campus could help normalize using them.
Students can’t afford to see the Food Bank close again, should the pandemic worsen. The University and the AMS need a plan to make it and other services more accessible come fall, when students will need them most.
Social services have been vital during the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean we should abandon them post-coronavirus; instead, we should fund them even more to ensure people—and students—have the resources they need, pandemic or not.
–Journal Editorial Board
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