While restrictions have eased in many parts of the country, the recent increase in numbers in some states has shown the need for continued social distancing and the likelihood of further lockdowns for many Australians. The way we live has changed and is likely to be different for some time.
The impact of the restrictions on mental health is well recognised. In fact, a survey of almost 14 000 Australian adults in the first month of COVID-19 restrictions, conducted by researchers at Monash University, found that mental health problems were at least twice as prevalent as before the pandemic began. Some people were more likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety and low optimism, including those who had lost jobs, people living alone and those caring for dependent family members.
If you are struggling with your mental health because of COVID-19 it’s important to reach out for help. There are many online resources now available including Beyond Blue’s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service, providing information, advice and strategies to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also speak with your doctor or a mental health professional.
Things you can do to look after your mental health and wellbeing during this time include:
- Staying informed but not overwhelmed. Limit the time you spend reading, watching or listening to news that makes you feel stressed or anxious. When you seek the latest information, follow trusted news channels and the advice and recommendations from your national and local authorities.
- Maintaining or building a daily routine. Try to get up and go to bed at similar times, eat regular meals and allocate time for work and rest.
- Looking after your physical health by eating well, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep. Avoid using alcohol and drugs to cope with anxiety, boredom or social isolation.
- Staying connected with friends and family. Even if you can’t do this in person, you can keep in touch via phone or video calls.
- Helping others. If you can, consider offering support to other people in your community such as offering to help them with food shopping. Take care that this happens safely with appropriate social distancing.
If you are being treated for a mental health condition, continue to take your medications and attend appointments with your mental health professionals (whether in person or by phone or video), keep in touch with those who care about you, and know who you can contact for support when needed.
Need more help?
- Contact the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service or call 1800 512 348.
- Watch the National Mental Health Commission webinar series: #InThisTogether.
- Download the free template from the Black Dog Institute and develop a self-care plan for your mental health.
- Visit the Australian Government Head to Health website for information and tips for managing your mental health related to COVID—19.
- World Health Organisation: COVID-19 and Mental Health
- Department of Health: Looking after your mental health during coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions
- Head to Health: COVID-19
- Australian Government National Mental Health Commission: In This Together