Mental health & Covid-19
Although Western Australians have been spared the worst impacts of Covid-19, the pandemic continues to impact us all. It’s now clear the threat of the virus will remain in some form for the foreseeable future – as will many of the measures put in place to protect us. We have become used to physical distancing, logging our movements, travel restrictions, vaccination updates and the threat of sudden lockdowns. But for many people it has caused significant anxiety and additional stress.
Here you’ll find guidance and information, from trusted and reliable sources, to help keep mentally healthy during these unusual times.
How you can look after yourself
In these uncertain times, now, more than ever, it is important to manage your mental health and wellbeing. Here are some tips to help you along the way.
Stay informed with trusted information
It's completely normal to experience symptoms of worry and anxiety during uncertain times – but it is important to keep things in perspective.
The non-stop media coverage is great to keep you up to date but it’s not always helpful. Make sure you access good quality local information from credible sources like the regularly updated information from the Western Australian State Government.
Lessen the amount of media coverage you watch if you find it upsetting.
Visit the Healthy WA website for information about all the ways you can reduce your risk of infection. It is important to follow any restrictions in place and to keep on top of the basic hygiene principles.
If you are concerned about vaccinations, again, it’s important to access reliable information. A lot of your questions are answered here.
Prioritise your mental health with Act Belong Commit
In times of additional stress, prioritising your mental and physical health is more important than ever. The Act Belong Commit principles – keep active, connect with others, and do things that provide purpose and meaning – provide a great guide for staying mentally and physically well.
Keep active: There’s no substitute for physical exercise, so if some of your favourite physical activities are now more difficult, treat it as an opportunity to try something new. In the event that venues are closed or classes cancelled, do something you have control of – you might be surprised how much you can do in your own backyard or how much you can get out of walking. Keep mentally active also. Read the book you never got to, tackle a jigsaw puzzle or challenge someone to a game of online scrabble. Don’t stop doing things you love just because you need to wear a mask or keep some distance between you and others.
Stay connected: It may be more difficult to mix socially but make sure you stay connected to others. Isolation and loneliness are real threats to our mental wellbeing. Spending time with others, helps us to feel cared for and supported and provides a sense of belonging and community. And when you spend time connecting with and supporting others, such as friends or family, your wellbeing improves too.
If you can’t meet in person meet over the phone or another platform such as Zoom. Find new Covid-safe activities you can do with others in your area on the Act Belong Commit Activity Finder. If indoor activities with friends are difficult, connect in different ways like going for a walk together.
Do things that provide meaning: Committing yourself to something new and challenging is good for your mental health. You may not be ready to learn a new language but how about enrolling in an art class? If you’ve never thought about volunteering for a cause, now’s a great time to start. Doing things for others doesn’t just benefit them, it’s also good for your mental health. Whatever your interests, you’ll find a host of volunteer opportunities on the Volunteer WA website.
Managing financial stress
Economic hardship and financial worry can greatly impact our mental health and wellbeing. There are many services available to assist you if you're experiencing financial worries, click here for more information and resources.
Keep connected with older family, friends and neighbours. A little kindness can really help someone if they are feeling lonely. If you can’t drop in on them, give them a phone call or even write them a letter. Video calls, emails and social media may be the best way to connect with people who are anxious about in-personal contact. Check in on them regularly and see if they need any groceries or help with medical appointments etc.
If you’ve got little ones, it’s important to keep an eye on their mental health too. They may be struggling with disruptions to routine and separation from family and friends. Try to make special new routines with them and encourage them to think about others. There are lots of creative physical distancing activities which can be fun like bike riding, card games or cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Try to keep things in perspective for them and practice gratitude for the good times each day.
Support for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
It’s important to get the right facts – you can find Covid-19 resources translated into 86 languages here. Select your language and get detailed info on the facts, guides and tips about mental health.
Resources to help Aboriginal people prioritise their mental health can be found here.
Get support if you need it
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, access support.
There is a Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service that is available to all 24/7 if you're feeling worried or struggling to cope during the coronavirus pandemic.
Call 1800 512 348 or visit this website and chat online.
Or check out this range of phone and online services which can offer mental health support.