In the eighth week of lockdown, NSW Health’s chief psychiatrist Murray Wright has issued advice for those struggling under the weight of the restrictions.
He described the current NSW lockdown as “probably the most sustained and serious stress that many of us are going to face in our lifetimes”.
Today, NSW recorded 345 more cases of COVID-19, and there were two further deaths.
With no end in sight as to when the lockdown will lift, Mr Wright encouraged people to be mindful of their feelings, and to manage their stress.
And to access help, if needed.
“How we manage it is going to be really important in minimising the wellbeing and mental health impacts of the stress,” he said during the NSW Government’s press conference today.
Mr Wright noted that in lockdowns, people lose the structure of regular life: going to work, going to the gym, visiting friends and family.
“The simplest things that we can all do is to have a plan and create structure in your lives,” he said.
“It is important to recreate it. That includes having regular daily exercise of some kind, having contact with the people who are important in your life and talking about meaningful things, including how they are coping and how you are coping.”
Watch: NSW Health’s chief psychiatrist Murray Wright
Starts at 11:50
He also suggested people be mindful of their diet, sleep and drinking habits.
“And also to set goals every day and review that,” he said.
“None of us always execute the perfect plan, but it’s important to review it and renew it on a daily basis.”
“None of us always execute the perfect (mental health) plan, but it’s important to review it and renew it on a daily basis,” – NSW Health’s chief psychiatrist Murray Wright
Mr Wright suggested that if people are showing signs of emotional stress – difficulties with sleep or concentration; feeling fatigued, overwhelmed or irritable; or consuming too much alcohol – then they should ask themselves what they need to change about their life, or consider if they need help.
If a person suspects someone is struggling, then asking if they are OK, can be beneficial.
“That never does harm, and often does a world of good,” Mr Wright said.
“And making it a regular subject, as well as talking about the pandemic and talking about wellbeing, is really critical for all of us.
“It will minimise the impact and it will minimise the long-term impact of mental health issues long after the pandemic has gone.”
“[Making mental health a regular subject] will minimise the impact and it will minimise the long-term impact of mental health issues long after the pandemic has gone,” – NSW Health’s chief psychiatrist Murray Wright
Mr Wright explained that NSW Mental Health Services had adapted its services to the restrictions.
“There’s been an investment in services like increasing the availability of telephone help services,” he said.
“So even in isolation people can access help.”
He also pointed out that Beyond Blue’s online service provides specific advice for managing the pandemic.
“We expect that people will struggle from time to time,” he said.
“Look out for the people around you, talk about what you are doing about it and reach out for help if you need it.”
The Hope 103.2 team is currently following the BACE self-care guide.
- If you or someone you know is struggling or needs a compassionate listening person to talk to, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Australia’s Suicide Callback Service, on 1300 659 467.
- Head over to our Helpful Counselling and Community Services page for more professional and community support.
- Our Hope & Prayer team is always ready to listen to you prayer requests and praise points.