Set up a mental health strategy

Daryna ZadvirnaAlbany Advertiser
Albany Headspace manager Andrew Wenzel said there has never been a better time to care for your mental wellbeing.
Camera IconAlbany Headspace manager Andrew Wenzel said there has never been a better time to care for your mental wellbeing. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

We have been made more than aware of the measures needed to protect our physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic — most importantly, hygiene and distance — but what about our mental health?

With distancing, mass unemployment and a perpetual air of uncertainty, many people are experiencing an unwieldy mix of emotions.

Now, more than ever, it is vital to pay attention to your mental wellbeing, Albany headspace manager Andrew Wenzel said.

“We as a community, as a group of health professionals, as a society — we haven’t faced anything like this before and people react in different ways,” he said.

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“So it's normal to feel scared, it's normal to feel emotional, teary, overwhelmed or frustrated.

“Particularly when the usual ways in which we cope with anxiety — like exercise, sport and social gatherings — are being progressively closed down.

“So now is the time that we need to actively put a little bit of thought and planning into how we, as individuals, will get through this.”

Mr Wenzel said there were strategies people could use to stay positive.

“People need to invest in a plan that will get them through the next few weeks or months, through looking at doing everyday things a little differently,” he said.

The terminology of “social distancing” is problematic, according to Mr Wenzel, because social interaction is vital to our mental health — “physical distancing” would be more appropriate.

“Stay connected,” Mr Wenzel said.

“We're fortunate that we live in a time when there is so much technology available to us, and we need to use it, whether it’s phone calls, or video chats.

“I've heard great things about people doing stuff like ordering in takeaway and friends in Perth doing the same and then you sit down, log in, group call each other and it’s like you've gone out to eat.”

Mr Wenzel said people were also creatures of habit, so it was important to set up a routine and stick to it.

“Things like going to bed at the same time, waking up at a similar time, still getting ready and not staying in your pyjamas all day,” he said.

Getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy and exercising are also simple things that are more important than ever.

Mr Wenzel warned people to be wary of “rumours and misinformation” on social media, suggesting they take regular breaks from it and stick to reputable sources for information.

Lastly, “seek help if you need it,” he said.

“There are some really good resources available out there.”

Albany headspace is holding a Coping with COVID Stress webinar at 4pm today.

To take part, use Google Chrome or Safari to log on to call.lifesizecloud.com/2001027919 or call 1800 952 416.

“Treat this seriously,” Mr Wenzel said.

“We will get through it together and hopefully we will be better prepared should this come again.”

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