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Mental health and Covid-19

Whilst in the early stages Western Australians were spared the worst impacts of Covid-19, the pandemic has now certainly arrived and is impacting us all. What’s more, it is likely to remain in some form for the foreseeable future. We have become used to growing cases and having contacts and loved ones contract the virus. We are also very accustomed to wearing masks, physical distancing, logging our movements and continued programs of vaccination. All of us have been impacted in some way by COVID-19  – and some Western Australians continue to experience significant anxiety and 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.

Anxiety and worry are normal when there is a potential or uncertain threat. The threat may be to our physical health, social connections, financial circumstances, or any other important impact on our lives such as disrupted routines or plans.

Here are some strategies and tips to manage your way through this latest ‘new normal’.

Watch your thinking

  • Focus on what you can control in each moment and try to accept what is unknown or uncertain. Try to keep things in perspective and avoid getting caught up in making predictions. Focus on what you can control and not the things you can’t.
  • Many of us actually underestimate our ability to deal with hard times. Remember how you have coped in the past in difficult circumstances. What things helped you, and what didn’t help?
  • If you notice yourself worrying during the day, try to contain your worrying to a particular ‘worry time’ (e.g. 5 to 5.15pm). Outside of this time, postpone your worry and see if it still matters at your worry time.
  • The non-stop media coverage is great to keep you up to date but it’s not always helpful and some may find it overwhelming and upsetting. Limit media exposure and stick to trusted sources of information – check in with the news rather than being constantly connected.

The Mental Health Commission also has good advice on managing your mental health during challenging times through its Learn to Look After You campaign. Check out Managing Uncertain Times for practical strategies to help when it feel like things happening are out of our control.

This Way Up is another trustworthy source that provides practical tools for taking care of your mental health. The site includes online courses on a range of mental health topics including depression, worry and social anxiety.

Keep as healthy as you can, following good advice

Make sure you access good quality local information from credible sources like the regularly updated information from the Western Australian State Government.

Visit the Healthy WA website for information about all the ways to manage Covid-19 or reduce your risk of infection. It is important to follow advice, abide by restrictions and keep up-to-date with what’s required with vaccinations.

Prioritise your mental health when in isolation

Putting aside time each day to do things to contribute to our mental wellbeing can not only help us get through isolation but can also improve how we feel overall. Check out this article for tips when isolating including a Weekly Planner to you help act, belong and commit.

This article from The Conversation also provides practical advice.

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 you are in isolation or 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.

Support for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

The Western Australian Government also has translated advice which can be found here

Aboriginal resources

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 crisis mental health services and helplines which can offer mental health support.