COVID-19: Mental health in uncertain times

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2020 has been characterised by great challenges to our collective wellbeing. In the wake of Australia’s devastating bushfires, COVID-19 is now rattling our global community. The Mental Health Coalition of SA understands that tensions are running high and messaging is limited around what exactly to do and what will happen next. This is a time to practice caution and self-care, and an opportunity for our communities to learn a lot about looking after each other.

 

Staying updated 

At times like this it is easy to feel inundated with information. It is important to gather and share facts, not rumours. Empower yourself with reliable, evidence-based knowledge from expert sources: 


Self-care 

Your mind and body may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed by everything that’s going on. Fortunately, there are many steps we can all take to manage our wellbeing and stay mentally healthy.


The practical basics

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds (use hand sanitizer together with, rather than instead of, handwashing)
  • Wipe down frequently touched surfaces
  • Sneeze or cough into the crook of your arm or use a tissue and dispose of straight away
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Practise social distancing e.g. staying 1.5 metres away from others
  • Do not attend work or study if you are unwell.


Tips for keeping a healthy headspace

  • Remember that big steps actioned by authorities are not cause for alarm. Drastic measures are about prevention, and a positive sign that things are being managed. 
  • Be mindful of over-exposure to distressing information through conversation, stories, traditional and social media. Find a healthy balance. It can be really helpful to take a break from the 24-hour news cycle.
  • Engage in activities that make you feel calm and grounded (use of alcohol and other drugs can be counterproductive to this). 
  • Connect with others often. Social distancing means maintaining physical distance, not emotional distance. Check in regularly with your loved ones and support networks. Vent. Laugh. If health authorities have recommended limiting your physical or social contact to contain the outbreak, this can be done via e-mail, social media, video conference and telephone. We recommend talking over texting. 
  • Stick to your routines. Personal daily habits should be upheld wherever possible.  
  • Anticipate, acknowledge and do not judge distress. It is normal to feel worried and vulnerable, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you have a long-term physical health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the Coronavirus.
  • Take things day by day. The situation is developing quickly, and we cannot predict precisely what changes are to come. Focus on positive things you can do today to maintain your mental health and wellbeing. 
  • Make the most of sunshine! Social distancing does not mean you have to stay inside all day, particularly for Australians who are blessed with lots of space. Connecting with nature at this time is a great way to look after your health.

For further thoughts on self-care from our lived experience perspective, why not check out mindshare’s latest blog post, “Self care strategies during a time of uncertainty”.

Supporting your community 

Now is the perfect time for South Australians to practise supporting the mental health of their friends, families and communities. As we work together to #flattenthecurve, we can also unite in protecting collective wellbeing. Let’s look after each other. 

  • Stay calm and empower your communities with accurate, evidence-based information. Avoid fear mongering and encourage common sense and best practices. 
  • Check in on your friends, family members and those vulnerable to the physical and mental effects of the Coronavirus. If you are managing well and in a position to provide emotional support to those who might not be, reach out and do so. Connect often and  meaningfully—and from a safe distance if recommended. 
  • Share positives! How are people rallying to innovate and look after each other? What are some of the positive outcomes we’ll experience locally and globally? 
  • Think about how your knowledge, experience and resources can support collective physical and mental health. Perhaps consider collaborating with others to do just that. 
  • If you have the financial resources, consider donating to those who are or will feel economic impacts most.


Telephone and online-based supports

SA COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line  8.00 am to 8.00 pm, 7 days a week (this service can also provide follow-up calls)
1800 632 753

COVID-19 Mental Health Peer Support Line 5.00pm – 11.30pm 7 days per week
1800 02 2020
Web chat

Lived Experience Telephone Support Service (LETSS) 5 pm – 11:30 pm (a peer mental health support line)
1800 013 755
www.letss.org.au

 Regional Access Program (country areas) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
1300 032 186
https://saregionalaccess.org.au

Beyond Blue
1300 22 4636
www.beyondblue.org.au

 Lifeline Australia
13 11 14
www.lifeline.org.au

 

For people under 25 years of age

 Youth Beyond Blue
1300 224 636

 E-headspace
1800 650 890 

Mental Health Triage – 13 14 65
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (country and metropolitan areas) For people experiencing significant mental health impacts or those who need more immediate support.

 


MENTAL HEALTH IMPACTS OF CORONAVIRUS – SA HEALTH FACTSHEETS

 SA Health has developed Factsheets to provide accurate information to the community and people in home isolation.