Here’s How You Can Look After Your Mental Health During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Don't let physical isolation turn into social isolation.

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Looking after your mental health has never been more important than it is right now. With heavy restrictions on where we can go and what we can do, it’s easy for physical isolation to turn into social isolation — although with all the blessings of the internet, it doesn’t have to.

While the overwhelming threat of a global pandemic is obviously taking a toll, for many the absence of the little things can be just as damaging. Without access to ordinary coping mechanisms like going to the gym or spending time with friends (plus the added financial stress of an economic downturn) a lot of people are understandably struggling right now. As a result. we’re all being urged to reach out for help if we need it — and there are still plenty of ways to do that.

How To Access Professional Mental Health Support

The government has pumped millions of dollars into extra mental health support with their recent stimulus packages, while also expending their telehealth services to give all Australians access to medical care over the phone or via videoconference.

This means not only will you be able to speak to a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist without leaving home, but that service will be bulk-billed through Medicare — they’ve temporarily added additional mental health services to telehealth until September 30.

If you’re already seeing a psychologist, you’re being advised to ask them about their telehealth options, and whether that would be appropriate for your clinical care. If you’re looking for a new psychologist, the Australian Psychological Society allows you to narrow your search via those who offer telehealth services.

A new coronavirus support line has also been established by Beyond Blue, who last week said one in four calls they received were related to the pandemic.

“We’ve actually seen levels already that are greater than what we experienced during the bushfires. It’s just telling you a fair bit about how anxious people are,” Former PM and current Beyond Blue chair Julia Gillard said.

The government has also provided extra funding to existing support services like Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) and Lifeline (13 11 14).

Other services, like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, also run online meetings so people can still tap into those support systems.

The government has also set up a website dedicated to managing mental health during the pandemic, with a long list of resources and general advice. You can access that website here.

How To Look After Yourself In Isolation

In the meantime, there are things you can do to try and look after your own wellbeing while in isolation.

The new Head To Health includes a page of psychological tips to help cope with the current circumstances — you can read that here.

These include ignoring sensationalist news and social media and sticking to trusted sources of information, or shutting out the noise completely if you have to.

Keeping a healthy routine can also help — that includes planning activities you enjoy (that could be anything from reading a book to binging Netflix — no one’s judging) and activities that give you a sense of achievement (like learning a new skill or even just cleaning the kitchen).

Staying engaged with people is also important, whether that be through Facetime, a phone call, Houseparty, or even just a text (if you haven’t washed your hair in a week and don’t want your friends to see the crumbs on your shirt).

It’s also important to try to balance negative thoughts with positive ones (or at least more realistic ones), and try to maintain perspective. While isolation can be frustrating, it’s necessary to slow the spread of the virus and save people’s lives.

In the meantime, remember that eventually this will pass — the world has faced global pandemics before, and it’s always come out the other side.

If you need to speak to someone contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.