Mental Health Support During COVID-19 Lockdowns
We all know COVID-19 lockdowns take a toll on mental health, so how can we care for our loved one’s mental health in times of so much uncertainty?
Read on for our suggestions to keep spirits high during the pandemic.
It’s hard to stay positive with repeated lockdowns, social isolation and fear about contracting the virus – particularly for immunocompromised or older people. Whether you are a mental healthcare professional, receiving mental health support or find yourself experiencing heightened anxiety, confusion and isolation, the following ideas might spark some inspiration to fuel your mood – or be great suggestions for your loved one!
Get professional mental health support
The government has increased subsidised mental health support to 20 sessions per person this year, up from the usual 10 sessions per year. During lockdowns, mental health professionals can meet with you via teleconferencing or video calls. You can access these subsidised sessions through your GP. First, your GP will make a mental health plan in collaboration with you to ensure you get the support you want. They will be able to recommend psychologists to book with if you don’t know who to go with. Remember, the sessions stay with you not the psychologist, so you can switch providers to find the right personality fit.
And, if you are a mental health professional yourself – after all, that’s one of the courses we specialise in at Best West – we still encourage you to look after your mental health too. Just because you’re skilled in this area, doesn’t mean you’re exempt! You’ll be better equipped to support your clients if you are looking after yourself too.
Stay connected with your loved ones
We may not be able to see people face to face, but there are lots of other ways to connect with your friends and family. Call, text, video chat or connect via an app or online activity. Depending on the level of lockdown, you may be able to meet for a walk or sit outside as long as you can safely do so. Online streaming services like Netflix have added features like ‘Teleparty’ an extension that allows you to watch tv or movies with a chat function on the side. You could play a video game or virtual board game online.
It might be helpful to ask a friend or family member to check in with you at a certain time every day or so – helping to add a social routine to break up the time.
Look after your physical health
This one may be a little obvious, but we all need a reminder sometimes! Make sure you are eating regularly – with a preference for healthy foods that will fuel your brain. And, take the government up on the daily exercise time if you can. Even a short walk around the block, or moving your body outside will help give you some energy – trust us!
Have a browse on Youtube or download a fitness app (if that’s your thing) for some easy-to-do-at-home exercises. Try slow yoga or guided meditation if intense physical training isn’t for you.
Spend time doing fulfilling activities that bring you joy
Ok, so we’re not saying you should go all-in on the art of sourdough – although if you jumped on the bandwagon we wouldn’t blame you! Whatever it is – reading, video games, crafting, puzzles, playing with your pet or making music – put aside a little time each day to do it. If it brings you joy and is a safe activity for yourself and others, we say go for it!
Connect with online communities that share your interests
Following on from our last point, if there’s a hobby you’re into, chances are there’s someone else out there into the same thing! With social media, it’s easy to find accounts and pages that act as a forum for people with the same interests. There are even forums out there for your favourite book, tv show or podcast!
Like anytime you are talking to strangers online, keep your wits about you and never share personally identifiable information or your credit card details.
Tidy your space to make it a joy to be in
The saying ‘tidy home, tidy mind’ is a saying for a reason. Sometimes it can feel like a huge effort, but even simply doing the dishes, putting clutter away or changing your sheets can make a big difference to your mood. If it all feels a bit daunting, make a list and try to tick off one thing a day to keep on top of your housework. Starting in one corner and sweeping around the room tidying as you go will help you get through it in no time!
Know that emergency services are here to help
If you are concerned about your own safety or the safety of someone you know, there are free mental health services available in times of need. If you feel depressed, anxious or suicidal – please reach out for help. You are valued, you are loved and no one has to suffer alone.
Supporting loved ones
If you are feeling ok yourself, but concerned about a friend or family member’s mental health, keep in mind that telling people what they should do to improve their mood can be counterintuitive.
Often, the best way to help is to regularly check in and let them know you are there for them. A simple text or regular call can make all the difference to brighten someone’s day.
WA mental health support services:
- Lifeline WA – you can call on 13 11 14 at any time of the day or night. They also have a text message service and an online chat option if you prefer not to talk on the phone.
- Samaritans – there is a 24/7 helpline on 135 247 available to you whether you are in crisis, worried or depressed, upset or confused or just want someone to talk to.
- Rurallink – if you are living in a rural community, you can call 1800 552 002 from 4.30 pm to 8.30 am Monday to Friday, and 24 hours Saturday, Sunday and public holidays for confidential mental health support.
- Act, Belong, Commit has provided an extensive list of crisis support and mental health lines as well as lots of resources for your support.