Public health messages addressed to the general population should be clear and unambiguous. This is particularly important in times of a pandemic like COVID-19, when millions of lives are at stake. The message of “social distancing” used by public health authorities is a perfect example. It should be replaced by “physical distancing.”

“Language that is unclear — or worse, that conveys inadvertent and counterproductive meanings — undermines public health discourse. This is as true in public health as anywhere; successful behavior-change efforts, like those crucial to defeating COVID-19, depend in part on accurate, compelling language,” wrote Joanne Silberner and Howard Frumkin in The British Medical Journal.

One of the most serious effects of the coronavirus pandemic has been on people’s mental health. Children have increased sadness and depression. They also have difficulties with concentration and attention and avoid activities and games they enjoyed in the past, particularly when they are unable to be with their friends.