The importance of good mental health during SA's strict lockdown

MENTAL HEALTH: Headspace Mount Gambier's community liaison worker Nick McInerney said lockdowns can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, and it is important to not let the situation overwhelm you.
MENTAL HEALTH: Headspace Mount Gambier's community liaison worker Nick McInerney said lockdowns can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, and it is important to not let the situation overwhelm you.

Limestone Coast residents have seen their lives change massively due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but good mental health is needed more than ever.

Not being able to take part in certain activities for the next week, and maybe longer, has left countless people without usual life structure.

While the State Government's decision to enforce a strict lockdown will hopefully allow the state to get on top of the Modbury cluster, it's important to note that sudden life changes can cause people significant distress.

Headspace Mount Gambier's community liaison worker Nick McInerney said lockdowns can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, and it is important to not let the situation overwhelm you.

"One of the most important things is to try and keep your life as normal as possible, even though people are unable to do a lot of things," he said.

"Whether it is stuff like exercise, getting enough sleep and eating well, things like that will help you massively. There are benefits in finding a new hobby as well."

Mr McInerney explained that there are also plenty of habits that can harm someone's mental health.

"During these times, some people feel the need to resort to consuming alcohol or drugs. We obviously urge people to stay away from those, as they can negatively effect someone's mental health," he said.

As silly as it sounds, absorbing too much news can also cause harm. Due to COVID-19 updates flooding social media, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the content.

"It's important to not absorb too much news. We are obviously urging people to stay informed about the current situation, but we have found that all the updates can cause stress and anxiety," Mr McInerney said.

Despite many South Australians hoping that next Wednesday will see the state return to 'COVID normal', it's important to know that there is a high likelihood that lockdown could be extended.

"Unfortunately, like people have seen in Victoria and New South Wales, lockdowns can last longer than expected," Mr McInerney said.

"People need to be prepared for the lockdown to last longer than the seven days, because if they don't, they could potentially get really down on themselves."

Data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics' 2016 Census and Country SA Primary Health Network's 'Needs Assessment Report' has highlighted the region's mental health situation.

The reports stated that 17 per cent of Limestone Coast residents admitted to living with a mental health condition, with 11.6 per cent of them assessed as being in high or very high psychological distress.

Headspace proved to be the predominate mental health service provider in the region, with the centre delivering 2,695 occasions of service to Limestone Coast youth aged between 12-24 from 2017-18.

The reports also stated the region has one of the highest rates in regional South Australia when it comes to hospitalisation for intentional self-harm. The rate sits at 3.1 per 1000 people.

Residents between the age of 40-50 were recorded as having the highest rate of suicide, with over one third of suicides undertaken by married individuals.

While all the aforementioned tips might not work for everyone, it is important to speak up if you're feeling down, cause their are plenty of ways to find help.

Having good mental health is vital, and if anyone feels like they need help, please contact the Beyond Blue Support Service on: 1300 22 4636, or Lifeline on: 13 11 14. Both numbers are available 24/7.

This story The importance of good mental health during SA's strict lockdown first appeared on Border Chronicle.