Sheffield mum with PTSD issues ‘be kind’ message after receiving abuse for not wearing face mask

A Sheffield mum whose hidden disabilities are exacerbated when her mouth and nose are covered is asking everyone to ‘be kind’ and consider that for some wearing a face mask is not an option.

Wednesday, 13th January 2021, 6:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th January 2021, 6:10 pm

The 36-year-old, who wished to remain anonymous, suffers from panic attacks as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and anxiety making wearing a face mask impossible to cope with.

Despite carrying an exemption card and wearing a sunflower lanyard – which acts to show the wearer has a hidden disability – the young mum says she has been verbally abused for not wearing a face covering in public.

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Face coverings are mandatory for most people in indoor public spaces such as shops and on public transport. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA

She also described how going to the shop can make her anxiety worse as people stare and judge her lack of mask.

"I’ve had situations where I've got on the bus and people have taken photos of me while I was with my little girl,” she explained.

"You also have people shouting abuse at you, telling you it’s your fault that people are catching Covid-19. They’re coming into your social space so they’re not following the guidelines either.

"When you got shopping you have people staring like you have something wrong with you.”

Face coverings are mandatory for most people in England when in indoor public spaces, such as supermarkets and on public transport.

But there are exemptions for people with medical conditions or other limitations for whom “putting on, wearing or removing a face covering” will cause “severe distress”.

People who cannot wear a mask because they suffer from a physical or mental illness or disability are also exempt, with an official note available to download from the government website.

The mum from Sheffield is now calling for better understanding of these exemptions.

She said: “Obviously people aren’t wearing masks for a lot of reasons but we shouldn’t have to explain ourselves to people. It’s becoming a world where people are being too judgemental and they’re saying ‘well it’s only for 10 minutes’ – 10 minutes for someone could feel like a lifetime for someone else.

"We seem to questioned a whole lot but they're meant to be hidden disabilities for a reason.

"I think people need to be a bit kinder. We’re having to wear something to draw attention to ourselves and I don’t think we should have to.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.