DSC’s Annual NDIS Conference 2024

Sydney & Online, March 26-27

NDIS News & Analysis

Stress and Anxiety Management During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Team DSC

We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a detrimental effect on many people’s mental health. These are stressful times (understatement alert!). To help, we have put together some resources that we think might be useful. But first, some important points:

  • This article does not provide medical advice. If you are concerned about your health, or the health of somebody you support, please seek medical attention or contact the Australian Government’s National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. If the situation is an emergency or you are struggling to breathe, please call 000.

  • If you or somebody you support need immediate mental health assistance, please call one of the numbers below. In an emergency, always call 000.

    • Lifeline 13 11 14

    • Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

    • Kid’s Helpline 1800 55 1800

    • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

ACCESSING PROFESSIONAL HELP

In the age of social distancing, the government has made it easier for people to talk to mental health professionals over the phone or through videoconferencing. All Australians eligible for Medicare can access these services. For the time being, mental health providers are also required to bulk bill for telehealth sessions. You can read more here.

Your GP should be able to refer you to a mental health professional. If you get stuck these are some websites that might be able to help you find someone to talk to:

 

WHERE TO GO TO GET INFORMATION

Accurate and up-to-date information probably has a higher stock market rating than gold at the moment. And when it comes to your mental health, you want to make sure you are getting information from reliable sources. Here are some to get you started:

  • The Department of Health has some COVID-19 mental health advice on their Head to Health page.

  • Beyond Blue has some great tips for looking out for your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

  • It is also worth checking out Lifeline’s resource page. One interesting thing they note is that during the SARS pandemic in Hong Kong, people reported feeling an increased sense of social connection, which offset the negative mental health impacts of the outbreak. So there has never been a more important time to stay connected.

  • The Conversation also has a great article that goes through signs that you can look out for that your mental health is deteriorating, and steps you can take to improve your well-being

  • 10 Per Cent Happier with Dan Harris has also released this special edition podcast on coronavirus anxiety. He interviews an anxiety specialist from Harvard and a meditation teacher. It is 1 hour long, and full of practical tips.

WHAT CAN I CONTROL?

In stressful times (e.g. every day of 2020) a great way to manage the degree of uncertainty is to focus on what you can control and to turn your attention away from the things you can’t control. Our team loved this pictorial image below that guides you through what you can control, and what you might try to let go of.

Just a note- it refers to the CDC, which is the American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. In Australia, you can get similar advice on the Department of Health website.

MEDITATION APPS

Need a bit of help putting in place a regular meditation routine? Here are some apps that we like:

  • Smiling Mind is a well known Australian mindfulness meditation app developed by psychologists and educators. It includes loads of simple, guided meditations for all ages and all attention spans, and also allows you to join ongoing programs and track your progress. They’ve also created Thrive Inside especially for COVID-19 stress. You can follow them on Instagram for quick links to mindfulness activities.

  • Insight Timer- is another app that features meditation teachers from around the world, with a much broader array of meditation styles. This app has some wonderful middle-of-the-night meditations for insomnia (which many of our team members use A LOT). All their guided meditations are free, but you need to subscribe to access more ongoing programs. 

There are also many opportunities to bring mindfulness into your everyday life. We are all washing our hands about a trillion times a day at the moment. So why not make this ritual a mindfulness activity? This video from Headspace guides you through the process.

 

MUSIC

Spotify has some great playlists for boosting mood and getting you dancing in the shower. Check out Mood booster for upbeat,  anti-anxiety for mellow music, or this one for meditative sounds.

 

UPCOMING SUPPORTS

The government has also announced a package of measures to support people’s mental health during the pandemic. Here’s what we can expect:

  • A coronavirus digital resource and 24/7 phone line run by Beyond Blue.

  • Extra funding for phone counselling services, including Lifeline and Kids Helpline.

  • A mental health program for frontline workers that can be accessed online or by phone.

  • An expansion on the Community Visitors Scheme, which connects volunteers to people receiving aged care supports.

  • Headspace to expand its digital services to help younger people stay on track with their education.

  •  Culturally appropriate mental health and wellbeing resources for First Australians, developed by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit).

  • Increased funding for Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA)’s helpline.

  • Funding for Commonwealth community mental health services will continue for another 12 months, giving people more time to access the NDIS.

We hear again and again from the experts to double down on strategies that help you to be your best self. That might be meditation, gardening, breathing, dancing, exercise, etc. Whatever normally works for you, doing it way MORE will help you through this period.