I’m a language person, and it sparked my curiosity when I started seeing “physical distancing” supplant “social distancing” in some publications. A move from the social-distancing term is an attempt to underscore the fact that we should maintain our social connections, given the opportunity for technology to bridge some of the gaps while we need to remain physically divided. I don’t know if the shift in parlance will encourage people to reach out more during a stressful time or to minimize the feeling of isolation even I have when I can’t “read” someone’s expression behind a mask, but it will be nice if it does.
Courts can be tense places where weighty matters are discussed. The National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness seeks to provide resources that aid courts in being responsive to the needs of those with mental illness. Mental health issues at any time, including a time of physical distancing when people may feel socially isolated, are not restricted to just those served by our workplace. They can extend to those working in and around our workplace. So, under Pandemic Resources, the task force has posted materials seeking to address employee well-being within courts.
Can a change in terminology and additional information help? I’m going to find out. At the very least, my being more familiar with the challenge stressors can create among those I see personally and professionally will encourage me to engage with others and to ask and listen more about what they need. Connecting may not inoculate us from a pandemic, but it may help us get through it together.