COVID-19: managing mental health in community living
Australians are known for looking after people who might be doing it tough. It’s no different in our current circumstance as we look to stay more connected as ever and come together to manage the spread and risk of COVID-19.
Let’s not underestimate the impact that this is having on many of our communities. The outbreak of COVID-19 can be stressful for many people. However, if we stay socially connected through technology, we will be able to practice the physical distancing that is required while minimising poor mental health and wellbeing; staying connected means staying strong as a community.
Staying connected means staying mentally strong as a community
Living in strata or community living environments is the perfect setting to check on your neighbours and look out for others. If you have a notice board, try putting up your contact details to let people know you are there to talk or offer help. Likewise, notes under doors or in letterboxes are helpful too, as is checking on your neighbours if you have pre-existing digital forums. Encourage physically distant communication with each other to show support.
Always follow physical distancing regulations, use technology where appropriate, and leave goods at someone’s door if you are doing a delivery.
COVID-19 might be introducing people to a range of stresses and hard situations, including loneliness, poor health, financial hardship and loss of a loved one. So, don’t forget to ask R U OK?
What committees and owners can do to encourage good mental health for those around them?
Think about setting up a Facebook group, WhatsApp, or digital conversation with those in your building as support. Here, you can ask if anyone would like a phone conversation, a favour, or just check in with them via message. Remember to respect people’s privacy if they don’t feel comfortable to participate.
If you are setting up a new online group to provide support during COVID-19, read here for some additional information worth considering like setting ground rules.
How to look out for yourself and encourage good mental health
Simple steps like remaining physically active can make a big difference to levels of wellbeing. Even something as simple as stretching can help. Don’t forget that exercising in common areas isn’t best practice for germ management at the moment. If you can, go for a walk and exercise somewhere that doesn’t involve touching equipment and common area assets.
Make sure you remain active, follow a routine, and make time for doing things that give you enjoyment. For example, reading a good book is a great way to unwind, keeping a diary can help you relax, and eating healthy food will keep you feeling good and keep your immune system strong.
Likewise, the below documents are helpful guides that will help you or others combat the stress and anxiety brought on by COVID-19. These documents are vetted and reliable, so feel free to recommend them to others living in your strata property.
- Australian Psychological Society – Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety
- Beyond Blue – Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
- WHO – Mental health and psychosocial considerations during COVID-19 outbreak
- Guy Which for Ted – “I’m incredibly anxious about coronavirus”
- Dr Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap – How to respond effectively to the coronavirus
If you need help, use the resources available and share them with those in your property
If you feel you need help, don’t hesitate to seek it. There are lots of well researched and practical resources that can make a difference.
As a committee, it would be considerate and supportive to share these tools and this article with the owners within your building.
Easy and free mobile apps
- Smiling Mind – free mindfulness meditation mobile app to help look after your mental health and manage stress
- Headspace – free Weathering the Storm program to help support communities through COVID-19. Weathering the Storm includes a list of meditations, sleep help, and at-home movement exercises
Crisis support and counselling
- Lifeline – crisis counselling and suicide prevention services. Call: 13 11 14 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or visit Lifeline online chat
- Suicide Call Back Service – online and phone counselling if you or someone you know is feeling suicidal. Phone: 1300 659 467 or visit Suicide Call Back Service online chat
- Beyond Blue – online and phone mental health support. Call: 1300 22 4636 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or visit Beyond Blue online chat
- Mindspot – free telephone and online service for people with stress, worry, anxiety, low mood or depression. It provides online assessment and treatment for anxiety and depression and can help you find local services. Call 1800 61 44 34 (8am – 8pm, Monday – Friday; 8am-6pm, Saturday)
Note: We are not in the position to provide health advice and we encourage you to keep up-to-date with guidance provided by the Australian Government on their website, visit here.