Daily Bulletin


News

  • Written by Michaela Pascoe, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Exercise and Mental Health, Victoria University

Medicare-subsidised psychology and psychiatry sessions, as well as GP visits, can now take place via phone and video calls – if clinicians agree not to charge patients out-of-pocket costs for the consult.

The changes are part of a A$1.1 billion coronavirus health funding package, announced yesterday, which includes A$74 million for mental health support services, including Kids Helpline, Beyond Blue and Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia.

Read more: All Australians will be able to access telehealth under new $1.1 billion coronavirus program

Before the pandemic, one in five Australians experienced mental ill-health every year.

But the uncertainty and instability around coronavirus has the potential to exacerbate existing anxiety and depression and contribute to the onset of new mental health problems.

So what are some of the signs your mental health might be declining during the pandemic? And what can you do about it?

What are the signs of anxiety and depression?

Mental illness results in physical changes as well changes in thinking, feelings and behaviours.

Anxiety

Common physical signs for anxiety include increased heartbeat or butterflies in the stomach.

People might think they’re unable to cope, and may feel scared, restless, or stressed out.

Behavioural signs might include avoiding people or withdrawing, or being agitated, aggressive or using substances.

Even in the absence of a mental illness, many people will experience some of these symptoms during the pandemic.

Is your mental health deteriorating during the coronavirus pandemic? Here's what to look out for It’s normal to feel stressed and that you’re not coping very well – up to a point. Shutterstock

Depression

Common physical changes for depression might be changes in sleep, appetite or energy.

Emotional effects might include changes in mood, motivation or enjoyment. People might have difficulty concentrating, or experience hopeless or critical thoughts, such as “nothing will get better.”

Behavioural signs might include withdrawing from people or activities, substance use or poorer performance at work or school.

Again, many people who don’t have clinical depression will experience some of these symptoms during the pandemic. You might be feeling stressed, worried, fearful, or ruminate over negative thoughts.

These thoughts and feelings can be difficult to manage, but are normal and common in the short term. But if symptoms last consistently for more than a couple of weeks, it’s important to get help.

Read more: Coronavirus is stressful. Here are some ways to cope with the anxiety

What steps can you take to improve your mental health?

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine highlights six areas for us to invest in to promote or improve our mental health: sleep, nutrition, social connectedness, physical activity/exercise, stress management and avoiding risky substance use.

1. Sleep

Lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep, can contribute to poorer mental health.

Keeping to your usual sleep routine even when your daily life has been disrupted is helpful. Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.

Is your mental health deteriorating during the coronavirus pandemic? Here's what to look out for Prioritise sleep for better mental health. Shutterstock

2. Nutrition

The food we eat can have a direct impact on our mental health. Try to eat a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables and nutrients.

Where possible, avoid processed food, and those high in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, which have been linked to poorer mental health.

3. Social connectedness

Being connected to others is important for our mental and physical well-being and can protect against anxiety and depression.

Despite the physical barriers, it’s important to find alternate ways to maintain your connections with family, friends and the community during this difficult time.

Read more: Can't sleep and feeling anxious about coronavirus? You're not alone

4. Exercise

Physical activity decreases anxiety, stress and depression and can be used as part of a treatment plan for people with mental illness.

Regular exercise also improves the function of your immune system and decreases inflammation.

You might need to find different ways of exercising, such as running, walking or tuning into an online class, but try to make physical activity an enjoyable and rewarding part of your daily routine while at home.

Scheduling physical activity at the end of your “work day” can help to separate work from your personal life when working from home.

Is your mental health deteriorating during the coronavirus pandemic? Here's what to look out for Make exercise part of your new daily routine. Emma Simpson/Unsplash

Read more: How to stay fit and active at home during the coronavirus self-isolation

5. Stress management

It’s important to be able to recognise when you’re stressed. You might have feelings of panic, a racing heart or butterflies in the stomach, for example. And then find ways to reduce this stress.

Mindfulness practices such as meditation, for example, can decrease stress and improve mental health. There are a number of breathing exercises that can also help to manage stress.

Spending time outdoors has also been shown to reduce stress. So consider spending time in your backyard, on your balcony or deck, or if possible, take a greener route when accessing essential services.

Talking about your experiences and concerns with a trusted person can also protect your mental health.

6. Avoiding risky substance use

While it might be tempting to reach for alcohol or other drugs while you’re self-isolating, keep in mind they can trigger mental health problems, or make them worse.

The draft alcohol guidelines recommend Australians drink no more than ten standard drinks a week, and no more than four a day.

Read more: Cap your alcohol at 10 drinks a week: new draft guidelines

People who drink more than four standard drinks per day experience more psychological distress than those who do not.

Where to get help

A good place to start is with Beyond Blue, which offers online discussion forums.

If you feel you need additional support, you can make an appointment with your GP and discuss getting a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist, as well as telehealth and bulk billing options.

If you need immediate support and are in crisis, go to the emergency department of your local hospital, contact your local crisis assessment and treatment team (CATT) or psychiatric emergency team (PET), or call 000.

Other agencies that can help in a crisis are:

  • Lifeline telephone counselling, 13 11 14 (24 hours)
  • Suicide Call Back Service, 1300 659 467 (24 hours)
  • Kids Helpline, 1800 55 1800 (24 hours).

Authors: Michaela Pascoe, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Exercise and Mental Health, Victoria University

Read more https://theconversation.com/is-your-mental-health-deteriorating-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-heres-what-to-look-out-for-134827

Writers Wanted

An unexpected consequence of climate change: heatwaves kill plant pests and save our favourite giant trees

arrow_forward

Burnt ancient nutshells reveal the story of climate change at Kakadu — now drier than ever before

arrow_forward

My favourite detective: Jules Maigret, the Paris detective with a pipe but no pretense

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Ray Hadley's interview with Scott Morrison

RAY HADLEY: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: G’day Ray.   HADLEY: I was just referring to this story from the Courier Mail, which you’ve probably caught up with today about t...

Ray Hadley & Scott Morrison - avatar Ray Hadley & Scott Morrison

Prime Minister's Remarks to Joint Party Room

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is great to be back in the party room, the joint party room. It’s great to have everybody back here. It’s great to officially welcome Garth who joins us. Welcome, Garth...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Tips to find the best plastic manufacturing supplier for your needs

Plastics are very much an important part of all of our lives, but they’re particularly valuable to a wide variety of industries that rely on their production for their operations. The industries, ...

News Co - avatar News Co

7 foolproof tips for bidding successfully at a property auction

Auctions can be beneficial for prospective buyers, as they are transparent and fair. If you reach the limit you are willing to pay, you can simply walk away. Another benefit of an auction is tha...

Dominique Grubisa - avatar Dominique Grubisa

Getting Ready to Code? These Popular and Easy Programming Languages Can Get You Started

According to HOLP (History Encyclopedia of Programing Languages), there are more than 8,000 programming languages, some dating as far back as the 18th century. Although there might be as many pr...

News Co - avatar News Co



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion