The number of people seeking help from
mental health services has soared since the beginning of the pandemic. COVID-19
continues to cause anxiety and depression, isolation is linked to disconnection
and loneliness, and financial stress is a new reality for many. Much of the
stress from COVID-19 is related to a fear of the unknown, with the
ever-changing global health threat combined with unknown vaccine and treatment
options and a complete lack of financial security.
According to Professor McGorry, executive
director of youth mental health organisation Orygen, the pandemic has had a
"very major effect on the mental health of everybody. Obviously, people
are struggling with the lockdown. Normally, the things you do to maintain your
mental health, you are just not able to do them at the moment. So lots of people
are going over the edge here." While the current situation is affecting
everyone, young people are affected more than most due to massive reductions in
the casual workforce and severe disruptions across the education sector.
Statistics from Lifeline in Australia show
people across the country struggling with their mental health more than ever.
In its most recent data, the hotline received 25% more calls than the same time
last year, which is the equivalent of one call every 30 seconds. In the UK, the
NHS recorded a sharp rise in people reporting severe mental difficulties,
despite a 30% decline in referrals to mental health services. According to NHS
Confederation's mental health lead Sean Duggan, "intensive support and
investment" is needed now, because "if you leave problems they can
According to Beyond Blue, there are many
ways you can look after your mental health while self-isolating. First and
foremost, it's important to remind yourself that this is a temporary and
necessary period. Secondly, it's crucial to stay connected with people, and
engage in enjoyable activities to keep you relaxed and healthy. If you're
feeling overwhelmed or stressed due to the virus, it's important to seek
support from friends, family, and professionals if needed. Along with staying
connected and remaining active, there are many things you can do to retain a
degree of certainty and control in your daily life.
Sound financial management is more
important than ever, although it can be challenging due to unknown variables.
Even in the toughest of situations, looking after your finances is a great way
to achieve clarity as you forge a path ahead. Perhaps more than anything,
however, the best way to look after your mental health right now is to hold on
to hope. According to Professor McGorry, "People have just got to take one
day at a time and try to get through the next few weeks and then I think it
will be a much better period ahead... Just don't give up on hope. Hope is a
life-saving commodity that we all need."