Pandemic frustrations boil to surface as B.C. government posts ‘self-care bingo card’

“This is some next level gaslighting.”

“This is just depressing.”

“People are dying!”

Comments ridden with frustration and anger flooded Twitter on Friday after the province posted a pandemic “self-care bingo card” suggesting ways that B.C. residents can care for their mental health during the pandemic.

The graphic was accompanied by the message “self-care can help manage some stress & anxiety during #CovidBC. Identify how you’ve taken care of yourself so far this week with the goal to complete a row, column, or diagonal.”

Squares on the bingo card include activities like “went for a walk,” “got off social media,” “cleaned something,” and “got stuff done.” The centre square, usually the free square in a game of bingo, says “Cried. Let it out.”

The graphic triggered hundreds of responses, with the thread becoming a space where people shared the ways their mental health and quality of life have spiralled since the start of the pandemic.

People detailed that over the past year they had lost loved ones, lost employment, been evicted from their homes, and burned through their life savings as they tried to stay afloat. Responses ranged from obscenity-laden rantings, to deeply personal stories of being unable to hold events like funerals and feeling like “grief is eating me alive.”

Some wrote that it was offensive that the issue of mental health was trivialized into a game, while others wrote that the messaging was ableist and came across as tone deaf and condescending.

Some in turn created their own bingo cards, with boxes listing their perceived failings of the government in handling the pandemic. Others wrote that they had been attempting to access mental resources through the province for months, and that despite completing all the suggested activities they felt deeply depressed.

Still others replied that they found the graphic helpful and didn’t agree with the criticism.

Later in the day, the province posted a statement that recognized they had “more work to do” — but stopped short of an apology.

“We’ve seen positive feedback, but also heard we missed the mark. We know there’s a lot more work to do to get through this — we’re committed to doing the work,” read the statement.

The blowback to the tweet comes at a time when early pandemic rituals like bread baking and the 7 p.m. cheer have been replaced by anxieties over stalled vaccine shipments and emerging variants of concern.

B.C.’s restrictions are in place indefinitely and have stretched on longer than in the spring, while travel to communities like Whistler, and rules around mixing households in restaurants have become flashpoints of frustration for those who feel they are doing their part while others flout the rules.

“My mental health would improve immensely if those that disregarded restrictions were held accountable, and the rest of us could move forward,” wrote one Twitter user.

On Friday, B.C. hit its one-day record for COVID-19 vaccinations, along with 508 new confirmed cases of the disease and six more deaths.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said in Friday’s briefing that while he understands people are tired of restrictions on daily life and the pandemic in general, now is not the time to let up, especially as numbers are trending upward again in the Lower Mainland and northern B.C.

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