Isolation, Loneliness and Mental Health

Isolation, Loneliness and Mental Health

Isolation, Loneliness and Mental Health

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, we are being asked to take increasingly strong action to limit its spread. For some of us, this includes staying home and not doing the things we would normally be able to do to support our own wellbeing. At the same time, our inboxes, TVs, newspapers, and news feeds are filled with a nonstop torrent of information (not all of it accurate). The scenes of panic buying have not helped the anxiety some members of our community are experiencing.

Social relationships are important for health, and so it is important that in reducing our risk of exposure or our risk if spreading the disease, we don’t become cut off from our families, friends, and communities. Even before the COVID pandemic began, we already knew we had a growing problem of social isolation and loneliness in Australia. Instead of “social distancing”, think of the new measures we are all being asked to take as “physical distancing”. In other words, while we might keep our distance physically, we should find ways to stay as connected as we can.

Whether you are physically self-isolating, or whether you are just trying to come to terms with the changes to how we need to live for a while, we have some sources of information for you about how to take care of yourself.

If you’re looking for general advice and sources of help, Lifeline’s “Mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak” includes information on staying connected, managing your wellbeing including during quarantine, and where to go for help and support.

The Australian Government recently launched the How’s Your Head Today? campaign, urging people to prioritise their mental health, and seek help. People are encouraged to visit Head to Health for information, advice and links to free and low cost services and are encouraged to talk to their GP.

Beyond Blue has a dedicated page on their site, which includes a link to the Australian Psychological Society’s advice.

Black Dog Institute also has a dedicated page on their website with resources for anxiety, stress and wellbeing.

The Life in Mind team at Everymind has worked with the suicide prevention and mental health sectors, and in collaboration with the National Mental Health Commission to create a useful list of resources.

The World Health Organisation has released a factsheet on Coping with stress during the outbreak.

MindSpot has a 10 psychological tips for coping with infectious diseases.  The document describes practical skills to help you and your loved ones cope with anxiety and worry about infectious disease.

UK mental health charity Mind has tips on their website including how to plan for staying at home. Some of the information including links to the NHS are specific to the UK, but the basic information and tips on how to plan and look after yourself are still useful. Also overseas, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland has published a tipsheet for vulnerable people who are self-isolating. The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a general factsheet, not specifically related to COVID, on Coping with stress during infectious disease outbreaks. Please note once again the phone numbers and links to services in the Irish and US resources are not relevant for Australia.

As we come across further resources that are useful, we will add them here. Please also let us know if you have found a resource or information you have found helpful for your mental wellbeing during this time!