Looking after your mental health during COVID-19

By Jamie Salter

Australia’s peak rural medical bodies have urged regional Australians to ensure they are looking after their mental health as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine said those concerned about their own mental health, or that of their family or friends, should ensure they get help as soon as possible.

Assistance is available through GPs and other mental health professionals via telehealth or face-to-face consultations, as well as from organisations like Lifeline and Beyond Blue.

RDAA clinical lead Adam Coltzau said this was a stressful time for many Australians.

“There is not only the stress about how this pandemic will play out, but also the stress of not seeing family or friends, and concern about you or your family contracting the disease,” Dr Coltzau said.

“There could also be feelings of isolation and loneliness, particularly for those who are confined to home.

“And for many, there will be the enormous stress about losing their jobs or business, and their income.

“Given these pressures, it is crucial that you actively seek assistance if you notice you are struggling with your mental health, including feeling down or depressed.”

The Federal Government has announced it will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The additional sessions will enable them to continue to receive mental healthcare from their psychologist, psychiatrist, GP or other eligible allied health worker.

Dr Coltzau also urged rural health professionals who are feeling overwhelmed or anxious to seek immediate assistance from mental health services provided for the health profession.

“If I have one take home message for my colleagues, it is this — please do not just try to soldier on,” he said.

“Now is the time to reach out and get help.

“And there are many people and organisations who want to provide you with just that.”

The Federal Government Department of Health has a list of coronavirus support services.

If you need support, call Kids Helpline (1800 551 800), Lifeline on 131 114 or the suicide callback service on 1300 659 467, or visit: