Yarrawonga Chronicle

Mental health crisis worsens

- BY EMMA PRIOR

As the pandemic took hold in 2020 and so far through 2021, the mental health toll of indefinite lockdowns, border closures and isolation from friends and family has worsened which is why this October, which is National Mental Health month, is just as important as ever.

Locally Clinical, Health, Educationa­l and Developmen­tal Psychologi­st and Director of Yarrawonga Mulwala Psychology Dr Leah Brennan said the toll of different state rules and border closures have weighed down on many people and she has seen an uptake of local clients.

“Yes, more people locally are seeking treatment. Also, there is an increase in the severity of mental health concerns, and many people are staying in treatment longer as they need more ongoing support,” Dr Brennan said.

“It is across the age range, all genders, all walks of life. No demographi­c group is unaffected.

“We have seen an increase in parents of young children seeking support for their children and themselves, primary and secondary school aged children needing support, young adults, middle aged, and older aged adults.

“Fortunatel­y, our team has experience working with a range of clients with a range of concerns so we are also growing our team so we can continue to meet local needs.”

Living in a rural town rather than a metropolit­an area can often hinder the services people can access, however Yarrawonga Mulwala and the region do have several services that can help.

“Unfortunat­ely, rural people have always had more limited access to mental health services. This has been exacerbate­d by the pandemic,” Dr Brennan said.

“We have excellent local GPs, and they are doing an amazing job of identifyin­g and supporting those that are struggling with mental health concerns.

“Please see your GP if you are finding things difficult as they can provide assistance themselves, and they can help people to access local services.

“There are some other psychologi­sts and counselors providing services in Yarrawonga Mulwala, and other health profession­als such as nurses are providing support. School wellbeing teams are also working hard to support students and families.

“Many workplaces will provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to employees and their families so do look into this to see if its available to you.

“There is also phone (Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute, Butterfly Foundation, LifeLine etc) and web-based supports available such as This Way Up and MindSpot. There is good evidence that telephone and online supports can be very effective so don’t discount these services.

“The other thing to be aware of is that many services are now providing treatment via videoconfe­rence and telephone so locals can access services from all over Australia.

“This is particular­ly useful if you are suffering from a less common/more severe disorder that requires specialise­d treatment.

The weight of the COVID-19 crisis could be felt for years to come with experts anticipati­ng severe long-term impacts on mental health all over the regions including Yarrawonga Mulwala, particular­ly in younger people.

“Again, there is good evidence that videoconfe­rence and telephone delivered treatment can be very effective.”

Dr Win Myint Tun, GP Registrar at Denis Medical Group whose special interests include mental health said he has also seen an uptake of clients during the pandemic.

“I have been seeing more patients with mental health problems since the sixth lock down. The age group I have been seeing the most is between 25 and 55 as the mental health awareness in that aged group is very high,” Dr Win Myint Tun said.

“However, I believe that the lockdown equally impacts people from all walks of life and aged groups. So, if any family members are found to have mental health problems, they should be encouraged to see their GP to get support.

“For an emergency, we have the 24-hour telephone services for the mental health problems. If further inputs are needed, Wangaratta mental health triage service is available on 1300 104 211 or for non-urgent problems, Yarrawonga Health service and social workers are available in town.”

Figures released from YouGov have found the mental health of 54 per cent of Victorians has worsened during the pandemic, with 39 per cent saying they’re also worse off financiall­y.

Mental Health Australia CEO, Dr Leanne Beagley said that COVID-19 has had a devastatin­g impact on the mental health of many Australian­s.

“The research tells us that one in five Australian­s are reporting that they feel high levels of distress resulting from the pandemic,” said Dr Beagley.

“For everyone, the pandemic has provoked a challenge for managing our mental health. Lockdowns and increased isolation make it harder to seek out stress management activities like chatting with friends over a coffee or participat­ing in community sports.

“The message of this campaign though is that mental health is relevant to everyone. And we can all benefit from looking after our own mental health and the mental health of our families and communitie­s.”

Kids Helpline also recently announced that the number of children and young people presenting with varying levels of mental, emotional, and psychologi­cal anguish continues to increase in 2021 with 8,242 contacts up from 6,887 for the same period in 2020, which represents 45 contacts each day over the past six months (March to August 2021) from young people expressing concerns related to suicide.

Their latest data reveals that in the past six months (March to August) counsellor­s contacted frontline responders for an emergency crisis interventi­on 135% more than the same period in 2020.

The Victorian Government has announced investment to deliver fast-tracked, tailored care to those who need it, reducing the burden on emergency department­s as the number of coronaviru­s patients grows. Recently the government also promised to fund practition­ers in every public school from Term Four.

An investment of $13.3 million will also deliver 20 pop-up community mental health services – with around 90 dedicated clinicians providing 93,000 additional hours of wellbeing checks and counsellin­g to many thousands of Victorians needing support. The pop-up centres, to be delivered by trusted community health providers will open progressiv­ely from the end of September across Melbourne and regional Victoria, with a dedicated triage and referral hotline and website to be establishe­d in the coming days so people can start booking appointmen­ts. To find mental health assistance locally you can contact Yarrawonga Mulwala Psychology on 03 5743 3723 or

Denis Medical Centre on 03 5744 1777.

Anyone feeling anxious or depressed 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au.

Counsellin­g for young people aged 5 to 25 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpli­ne.com.au.

Anyone having a personal crisis 131 114 or lifeline.org.au.

Men with emotional or relationsh­ip concerns

1300 789 978 or mensline.org.au.

Veterans and families counsellin­g 1800 011 046 or openarms.gov.au.

Anyone thinking about suicide 1300 659 467 or suicidecal­lbackservi­ce.org.au.

 ?? ?? The Sebel Yarrawonga, like many hospitalit­y venues in the region, has been hampered by restrictio­ns and lockdowns since it opened late last year but recently appointed General Manager Jason Cooley is getting excited about what this “unique and stunning” 4.5 star hotel resort precinct can deliver to Yarrawonga Mulwala residents, visitors and the entire region this summer. More page 6.
The Sebel Yarrawonga, like many hospitalit­y venues in the region, has been hampered by restrictio­ns and lockdowns since it opened late last year but recently appointed General Manager Jason Cooley is getting excited about what this “unique and stunning” 4.5 star hotel resort precinct can deliver to Yarrawonga Mulwala residents, visitors and the entire region this summer. More page 6.
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