Looking after mental health

Health authorities have warned people to take extra care with their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is also a concern that mental illness and family violence rates will rise, which often occurs after emergency situations.

Nexus Primary Health chief executive Amanda Mullins said every individual should be self-aware and monitor their own stress levels.

“The current COVID-19 situation is extraordinary and at times is overwhelming for all of us,” she said.

“Worrying about disease is a normal reaction and it is necessary for us to be vigilant, but excessive worrying about any disease can affect both our physical and mental health leading to significant and understandable emotional distress, even among those who have not been directly exposed to the disease.”

Ms Mullins said based on research showing rates of mental illness and family violence increased after emergency situations, it was anticipated there would be increased incidences of family violence during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is due to various reasons such as increased stress about financial insecurity, employment and housing insecurity as well as isolation from friends and family and separation from community in an environment we are encouraged to personally distance,” she said.

“We encourage anyone experiencing anxiety, anger or fear about the situations in their lives to reach out for help as there are multiple channels available to help individuals work through their anxieties.”

Nexus Primary Health can assist with counselling and other services to support communities.

People can call Nexus on 1300 773 352.

Nexus tips for reducing stress and keep healthy:

Exercise regularly – fresh air, sunshine and activity helps us stay centred and clears the head;

Distract yourself –  try doodling, colouring books, board games, jigsaw puzzles, write a letter or phone a friend or get a new hobby like learning a new instrument;

Use mindfulness apps (Headspace, MyMind, Beyond Blue, Mind Spot websites) and practicing grounding yourself, both feet on the floor and breath deep rhythmic breaths;

Try to avoid isolating more than necessary (or advised), try and maintain safe contact with others, even a hello and smile to a stranger can help;

Eat well and limit alcohol intake;

Enjoy good sleep, hygiene, rest and practice gratefulness.