Supporting your mental health through natural disasters January 13, 2020 - The widespread loss and distress resulting from the current bushfires can affect anyone - whether you've been impacted by the fires directly or not. If you are feeling overwhelmed, there are services available.
headspace Community Engagement Coordinator, Amy Mines, said it's important to remember that everyone responds to trauma and grief in different ways. What works for some, may not work for you - but ignoring thoughts and feelings won't resolve the problem.
"We all have different coping mechanisms, whether it's talking through what we're feeling, exercising, or putting extra energy into a hobby - it's good to have ways to help work through our emotions, "It's also important to take care of our physical self as this supports our mental health - this means making sure we eat well, get plenty of sleep and some form of exercise," Ms Mines said.
Talking to mental health professionals can be a daunting experience for some, but it's a great way to learn strategies and skills for coping with tough times. "Discussing what your feeling with a trained professional can be very useful. It can give you a sense of control over what you're feeling and help you to process your thoughts and emotions," Ms Mines said.
For people aged over the headspace cut off age of 25, Marathon Health provides access to locally trained mental health coaches through NewAccess, a service designed by Beyond Blue. Jo Symonds NewAccess Mental Health Coach said there are many benefits to the program.
"NewAccess breaks down the barriers to access mental health support. It's a free program and our coaches are local, which means they know what's going on at a community level - something that can be very reassuring," Ms Symonds said. NewAccess offers mental health coaching over the phone, via Skype, Zoom or in person, for up to six sessions; after which clients can easily be transitioned into another Marathon Health mental health program, if required.
"You don't need a referral for NewAccess, or our headspace services, which means you can seek support early - and the earlier we address what's going on, the more likely it can be resolved," Ms Symonds said.
The current bushfire crisis is an overwhelming event, and Ms Mines reminds community members they aren't battling alone. "These events are daunting but you're never alone.
Our headspace clinicians have plenty of experience helping young people deal with difficult emotions, so remember that headspace has got your back," Ms Mines said.