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COVID-19 Information

Your mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) recognises and understands the distress and concern many people may be experiencing in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and offers the following mental wellbeing advice.

With the evolving tensions surrounding COVID-19, the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) believes that this is the time to show solidarity as a community. Whether that be, creating online support groups, or reaching out to friends and asking how they’re coping. Reactions of concern, anxiety, fear, sadness, anger and denial are completely normal; however, we ask you to refrain from panicking.

Try to remember that medical and scientific experts are following strict protocols to contain the virus and treat those affected. It is important to remain calm and practical and continue with your usual regime as much as you can.

We understand that children absorb information from the news, social media and discussion adults have around them. The best way is to be open and honest with children, sharing information in small amounts showing that you trust and value them, in-turn also helping to enhance their resilience

 

If you are in a position of self-isolation, this may be the time to finally watch that TV show you’ve been wanting to watch or, read a book you’ve been meaning to get around to. If you’re asked to self-isolate, try not to leave the confines of your home unless absolutely necessary. It is in times like this, that we must take care of ourselves and those around us to recover from this crisis situation. We ask you all to observe good hygiene habits and keep as safe as possible during this time.

Although it is important to stay up to date with information, we recommend you stick to the facts and rely on scientific sources for your information. This is the best way to maintain perspective and manage your feelings positively.

Here are some credible sources -

Above all, if you suspect that you or a family member has COVID-19 you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national COVID-19 Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

Let us all play our part and contribute to a sense of community and wellbeing. Remember that COVID-19 can affect anyone regardless of their nationality or ethnicity. Please acknowledge any feelings of distress and seek further professional support if required by calling the MHFA Helpline on 1300 MHF AUS (643 287).

Maintaining a positive and realistic outlook on COVID-19 and isolation:

  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation which will be over soon. Acknowledge that stress can impact anyone during and after such adversity and it understandable to be stressed right now.
  • While you might feel uncertain right now, it is important you have faith in the competency of the scientific community to give you the best advice and care for you and your family’s heath.
  • Connecting more with your cultural identity and having faith in your own ability to get through this tough time will help boost your resilience.
  • Maintain a realistic and practical perspective. Don’t expect yourself to be excelling in work or study right now or staying at your normal standard of productivity. If you have been put into quarantine or are self-isolating recognising this challenge, knowing you will overcome it, and giving yourself time to relax and recover in this time period is vital.
  • This is an opportunity to slow down and reflect on what makes you happy in life. Learn about the factors that affect your physical and mental health during the outbreak.

Social aspects: Being isolated is difficult, especially when you live alone. Here are some tips that might help:

  • Make time to call friends and family regularly. Video chat in particular can be helpful when you are feeling disconnected and it allows you to make and eat meals together, play games, drink some tea and chat all in an online space.
  • If you are being particularly affected by this event or are unwell and struggling to cope, let your place of work or study know as soon as possible so you can arrange appropriate adjustments to allow you time to recover.
  • Reach out to others if you need help getting supplies, or just need someone to talk to and support you in what can be a very lonely and isolating situation. If you are in a position to help others and provide them with comfort as well do so. Empathy and compassion strengthen our sense of community – something which is vital when we are not allowed face to  face contact. 

How to cope with not being allowed outside: If you have been told you are not allowed to go outside managing this and exercise can be difficult, especially if you find yourself quarantined in a confined space.

  • Try opening your windows and curtains to let in light and air; if you have indoor plants water them and connect to nature that way.
  • Try meditating or just mindfully sitting next to your window and practicing appreciation for the feeling of sunlight on your skin or hearing the breeze outside.
  • Try and set up a space where you can regularly get some physical activity. In confined spaces this might involve doing some yoga or stretches throughout the day, using gym equipment if you own it, following a quick work out tutorial that involves no additional equipment, having a mini dance party in your room, or even just walking around your room regularly.
  • If you are working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated work space.
  • If you take medication for your mental health or any other condition make sure you have contact with someone you trust who can pick up your scripts for you.

Ways to reduce stress in isolation:

  • Do some deep breathing and meditation to calm your mind
  • Try journaling about this experience, it might teach you something new and it will help you better understand your emotions, concerns, and mental wellbeing.
  • Try maintain a regular sleep routine and healthy diet.
  • Use this time to focus on things you love and enjoy that have maybe been neglected recently
  • Do something fun like playing some online games, arts and crafts, play some music, or cook a creative dish. Do something that makes you laugh!
  • Stay away from media coverage of the virus. You can find all essential updates on the DHHS website. News coverage will only increase your stress
  • Practice gratitude: while it might feel hard to find things to be grateful for in times like these, you can also use adversity to boost your gratitude for simple things like family and friends, the natural environment, good health, your food, and your favourite book. This helps to boost resilience and open our eyes to the broader picture.

Ways to seek help and help others:

If you need mental health support in this difficult time please call our mental health support line listed here.

If you feel helpless and want to support your community right now here are some things you can do:

  • If you are ill stay home to prevent infecting people in the community who are vulnerable.
  • Check in on relatives and friends who either might not have anyone to talk to right now or might need support to get the groceries and essentials they need.
  • Search Facebook for COVID-19 support groups in your area where you can volunteer to deliver groceries for vulnerable people who need to self-isolate right now.
  • Look for a foodbank in your community where you can either donate food or money online to help support those unable to buy their own groceries.
  • If you witness discrimination in your community in response to COVID-19 call it out and support those who might be feeling excluded as a result of stigma attached to the illness right now.

If you suspect you may have the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) call the Coronavirus hotline – 1800 675 398 open 24 hours, 7 days.

Staying well during self-isolation - an episode of 'Health Report' presented by Norman Swan

https://abclisten.page.link/X7iFF2nnJfcosnLu9

Available now through the ABC listen App - http://bit.ly/ABCradioApp

 

Information & Resources:

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-coronavirus-disease-covid-19

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