Lifeline Mid Coast urge people to take care of their mental health amid COVID-19 outbreak

Lifeline Mid Coast is urging people to take care of their mental wellbeing amidst the COVID-19 outbreak impacting the region and the world.

The service's crisis support manager Di Bannister said feelings of fear and anxiety are normal responses to what people perceive to be a threat.

Given Australia has experienced drought, bushfires and floods, Ms Bannister said this is another traumatic event which is out of people's control and comes at a time when they are already emotional drained.

"The feeling is that people start to think what am I going to have to cope with next?," she said.

In the past week, Lifeline has reported 23 per cent of callers discussed novel coronavirus through the hotline.

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Lifeline Australia chairman John Brogden is calling on Australians to look out for one another.

"The current social isolation policy means many of the important opportunities for people to connect with each other and do things they enjoy are being stopped," he said.

"For someone who is already struggling, this can be a huge blow."

Ms Bannister said the service is hearing a lot from the elderly, who are feeling anxiety on behalf of their young families and worrying about what the future might hold for them.

One elderly woman, who is aged in her 70s, is already feeling excluded from her family as she's been told by her children she has to stay isolated from her grandchildren, in case she becomes infected.

"It's a huge blow for her as she's lost that purpose of helping out with her grandchildren," Ms Bannister said.

People are also calling the service to voice their concerns about their financial situation, given some can't work due to the type of industry they are employed in.

Ms Bannister said it's important for people to focus what is in their control at the present time and to concentrate on their emotion response to the unfolding situation, rather than on coronavirus itself.

Other people are voicing their confusion as they are comparing the way people came together so effectively during the bushfire crisis, in contrast to the behaviour of people fighting over toilet paper rolls.

Ms Bannister said people should take the opportunity where they can to show a bit of humanity in whatever way they can.

"People can still practice social distancing when walking down the street and still be polite, engage with other people and smile," she said.

Given how the community banded so well together during the bushfire crisis, Ms Bannister said it's time to put into practice those actions again and think of the people who are the most vulnerable.

Ms Bannister is urging people to reach out to their elderly neighbours, friends or family members and ask if they need anything to help them.

Mr Brogden echoed the same sentiment.

"If you can't knock on their door, be imaginative in how you can connect- give someone a call, write them an email, put a note under their door, sing under their window," he said.

"By reaching out to someone who may be struggling and letting them know you care, you can send a really powerful message of hope."

For support, contact Lifeline at any time by phoning 13 11 14, or if your reception is low, text on 0477 13 11 14 every night between 6pm and midnight.

For more information to address mental health and wellbeing, please visit https://www.lifeline.org.au/


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