Meg Forbes is a mum, freelance writer, and photographer living in the Redlands, South of Brisbane.
Published August 12th 2020
Increased phone and online supports for all Australians
The Covid19 pandemic has increasingly impacted upon many people's lives as 2020 has progressed, with those affected often experiencing increased vulnerability to mental health difficulties. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that people be prepared and know in advance where and how to get help if needed. Additionally, the creation of new, regular routines, engagement in daily exercise, and keeping in regular contact with others in new ways (for example, via social media or telephone) are all strategies that may support mental health during the pandemic, and during isolation or lockdown in particular.
Covid19 has made 2020 a stormy year for many - but support is available to anyone who lives in Australia and is struggling
Even with these strategies in place, however, the Australian Government's Department of Health and other organisations such as Beyond Blue, the Black Dog Institute, and Lifeline recognise that many people may be feeling very normal increases in anxiety, confusion, or be overwhelmed by the sudden changes the pandemic has brought to their lives. As a result, many services have developed more accessible ways for people to access mental health support during the pandemic, with some of these supports discussed below.
1. Beyond Blue
Beyond Blue has trained counsellors available to support anyone who is feeling worried, or who is struggling to cope during isolation. Anyone in Australia can access this free, 24/7 counselling service by calling 1800 512 348, or through the Web Chat Support Service for anyone who doesn't feel up to talking. An online community forum is also available here, which provides a space where anyone in Australia can connect with others to chat about their experiences during the pandemic.
Lifeline provides 24/7 crisis support to everyone living in Australia through their helpline on 13 11 14. Additionally, for anyone who doesn't feel up to speaking on the phone between 6pm and midnight Australian Eastern Standard Time, a text service is available on 0477 13 11 14. A crisis online chat services is also available via the Lifeline Website here. Whichever of these services callers choose to access, the trained counsellors listen without judgement; provide a safe space for callers to discuss their needs, worries, and concerns; and work with the caller to explore options for support.
3. The Black Dog Institute
The Black Dog Institute provides a number of online mental health services to anyone living in Australia. There is an online clinic that is suitable for use by anyone aged 18 years or over who is worried they may be developing a mental health problem, or who would like to improve their understanding of their mental health. Other resources include a self-care plan that can be downloaded here, and a fact sheet with 10 tips for managing anxiety during Covid19.
The Australian Government has increased access to mental health services as a result of the Covid19 pandemic. This increased support includes new, temporary telehealth mental health services that will be available until 30 September 2020, as well as an additional 10 Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people living in areas that are subject to additional restrictions caused by the Covid19 pandemic. At present this includes anyone who is required to isolate or quarantine under public health orders, and from 6 August 2020 anyone living in Metropolitan Melbourne under Stage 4 restrictions, or elsewhere in Victoria under Stage 3 restrictions.
Although the Covid19 pandemic has had a significant impact for many people, self-care including routines and maintaining contact with friends and family, as well as the support services listed above can all assist Australians through to the other side of the Covid19 pandemic.
Struggling during the upheaval of a pandemic is normal, and with support we can all reach the other side together